Truck: A love story, by Michael Perry
Although Perry is a fine wordsmith, his book reads more like a bunch of newspaper articles strung together in a loose chronology of his year spent restoring a 1951 International Harvester. Truck is supposed to be about this year spent restoring his truck, but there is a lack of focus and he bounces around on various topics, some worth reading, and some not so much. It’s not a real page turner, that’s for sure, but once I trudged through this work, I had a better understanding of small town life and a respect for the author’s wide array of talents and skills. He has been a nurse, volunteer fireman, ranch hand, author, gardener, art lover and musician, to name a few of his occupations and interests. He seems like the kind of guy you would love to have as a good friend or co-worker, but maybe not read 300 pages about. And although he has some real flashes of humor, they are not enough to carry the book. He needs a little more punch to his writing, as he comes across as pretty tame and just too gosh darn good. I will say that if you are looking for something different, pleasant, a bit light and good hearted, you may enjoy this. But be warned, he has a tendency to overdo it with his descriptions, as he goes on and on about cooking recipes, his gardening techniques and plants and vegetables, especially at the start of the story- dissecting his cookbooks and recipes is not an attention grabber. And “his” restoration of the Harvester is mostly done by his brother-in-law, with Perry stopping in now and then to help out, and of course write about the process. We also see his relationship with Anneliese, now his wife, unfold from first meeting to marriage. This helps pick up the pace of the book at the end, but I never felt I got a good feeling for Anneliese and who she is. But don’t fret, that’s not to say there were not some redeeming qualities to the book, as there is a very interesting segment on his quadriplegic friend Ozzie, and how Ozzie manages with disability, which was the outcome of a freak accident. And throughout the story he tells of his experiences as an author, traveling to book signings, and worrying about paying the bills and medical insurance. Truck is a change of pace from the usual big name memoirs and an honest look at small town life and the quirky characters that inhabit such towns. The reviewers loved it, and he has a following, as he has a handful of books to his name, as well as countless articles in Esquire, Men’s Health and the New York Times Magazine to name a few.