I found a very pleasant surprise in my inbox at the library last Saturday. Inside a mailing envelope was an uncorrected proof of Michael Perry's new memoir Truck: A Love Story. With it came a hand-written "Howdy Rick" postcard from the author and a press release from HarperCollins. I guess Perry must have liked my review of Population 485, a book that I enjoyed reading last year.
So I have to admit that even before reading this new book to be published in October, I was favorably inclined and eager to read. I was hoping it would be just as honest and provide more insights into rural American character. I was not disappointed. Truck may not be as intense as Population 485, focusing on the safer aspects of Perry's life instead of his firefighting and paramedic work, but it includes two good love stories.
I really like Perry's visual descriptions. Pumpkin leaves remind him of tractor seats. His once thick hair gathers to a pony tail the width of a pencil. "A fist full of coupons" is "the size of a bad Uno hand." Readers can see what he describes.
Perry's new book might be considered a memoir of a year or an annual, which is probably not an official subgenre but should be. Some religious annuals describe an authors' spiritual development, meditations, and prayers over twelve months. Gardening annuals report how gardens grow through the seasons of a year. While Perry is not particularly religious, he is philosophical and describes his emotional growth in 2003 and into 2004, and his sometimes neglected garden is an important part of the story. He really focuses on rebuilding a 1951 L-120 International Harvester pickup truck with his brother-in-law Mark. Between stripping rust off the bumpers and harvesting parts from old trucks, he falls in love.
Readers of Population 485 will enjoy learning more about his mother, brothers, and friends in New Auburn, Wisconsin. They will also wonder whether he can really fix the old truck and maintain a romantic relationship.
Truck should appeal to many memoir readers, and old car mechanics might like it, too.
Perry, Michael. Truck: A Love Story. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. ISBN 0060571179