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Editorial Reviews

Population: 485 is a pleasant respite from our fast-paced lives where emails come flying in every few minutes, friends you don't remember you had fill your computer with silly updates, and kids can manipulate a computer program but can't start a conversation. Michael Perry's collection of essays, performed here pleasantly by the author himself, is a considerate look at some of the stories we let go unnoticed all around us. With his witty and empathetic styling, Perry brings listeners back to a time of small towns and tall tales, when the most dangerous vigilante was an old lady with a pistol and a Bible.

Publisher's Summary

After a 12-year absence, a real-life prodigal seeks to serve his hometown, New Auburn, Wisconsin, population: 485, by joining the volunteer fire and rescue department. In a place where men post claims of manhood on bug deflectors, where the local vigilante is a farmer's wife with a pistol and a Bible, and where the most senior firefighter is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), writer Michael Perry sets out "to meet my neighbors at the invitation of the fire siren".

This audio also includes eight wise and witty essays selected from Perry's new book, Off Main Street. Whether fighting fires, playing nurse to a murderer, hitting the road with a truck driver, or meditating on Elvis and osmosis, Perry shows us that his small-town roots have not limited his worldview; in fact, they've enlarged it in some of the subtlest, most observant, and memorable ways possible. This collection is a diverse and generous survey of the author's talents as a journalist, penetrating observer, and rural-bred storyteller of Wisconsin.

©2002, 2005 Michael Perry (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Adult Non-Fiction, 2003
  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Classic and Short Stories/Collections

"This is a quietly devastating book; intimate and disarming and lovely." (Esquire)
"Tragic at times, funny at others, Perry's memoir will appeal to anyone curious about small-town life." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Steve
  • Delray Beach, FL, United States
  • 12-12-05

A little slow, but it is a small town world....

This one takes patience to appreciate. I grew up in small town Iowa so I can appreciate the slow pace of the narratives and the verbose delivery of the author/narrator. This is a book of essays on the author's life and experiences living in a small town. Most of them are long roads to not too much but that's the midwest. There are lots of long roads there that don't go anywhere so it's up to you to appreciate riding the road you're on. If you can approach this book that way then you'll enjoy the ride.
You may want to keep a dictionary close. The author likes to use 50 cent words to describe 25 cent stories.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Marilyn
  • Oakland, CA, United States
  • 03-31-13

A lovely little book

I see this as a sweet valentine to my home state of Wisconsin, but you don't have to hail from the Dairyland to appreciate the tender insights in this book. Loved it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Read the book at the same time.

This was a horrible redintion of the book. I tried this service out and decided to read the book along with listening to the audio only to find they skipped so many major parts that it didnt make it worth it.


Do not get this book from here. Not sure if its the same audio file on other sites but Im requesting a refund.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

Absolutely loved this book especially because most places he talks about I’ve been to. He really hits the small town feel on the head and is a great storyteller. His short stories in the beginning of the book just add more good stories for your buck. Also it’s Another book that made my tearing up in a semi truck list.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

NOT THE FULL BOOK

When I bought this title, I did not realize that this is not the full book. It's a great collection of short stories, though going from 13 chapters down to 6 in the audio leaves out a lot of the warmth.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • BB
  • Shawnee, KS
  • 07-27-18

Goes great with bourbon

Moving writing and reading. Audible chapter breaks are misplaced. The book begins at 15 minutes into chapter two.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This man is a genius

nailed it. this is what small towns in wisconsin is truly like. the family the fighting the communities the heart of the midwest.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Wanted to read for years - disappointing

I thought this was going to be all about small town life, but Perry starts with some stories that don't connect - I was really disappointed. I have no idea when he started with the actual book because I quit reading it as it didn't make sense. I got the other books and hope they live up to their descriptions.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Good

Reminds me of home and my childhood. I like the small town stories. Very good!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • Tucson, AZ, USA
  • 07-02-07

Vivid, Amusing and Touching

Excellent book. The vignettes of the people and place are so vivid, amusing and touching. Can't wait for Truck.