Michael Perry is to Tom Hartwig, his octogerian neighbor, as we are to Michael Perry, the author and our guide to life in rural Wisconsin.
Perry observes Hartwig's life as readers observe Perry's life.
What Perry gains from his friendship is like what we gain from reading Visiting Tom. What the author deduces about Tom may not always be what Tom thinks or feels. Likewise, every reader will interpret the Perry's book in his or her own way.
Mostly Mike enjoys hanging out with Tom. I know I enjoy my time with the author and his observations.
Like Tom, Mike is a storyteller who enjoys the telling.
While Visiting Tom is partly about Hartwig and partly about Perry and his family, the reading is also partly about us. How do we live our lives?
Enough said, except that I have to try to spot a certain farm next time I drive the Interstate near Eau Claire.
Perry, Michael. Visiting Tom: A Man, A Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace. Harper, 2012. 310p. ISBN 9780061894442.