New York Times bestselling humorist Michael Perry makes his fiction debut with this hilarious and big-hearted tale, a comic yet sincere exploration of faith and the foibles of modern life that blends the barbed charm of Garrison Keillor, the irreverent humor of Christopher Moore, and the audacious insight of Chuck Klosterman.Read more...
New York Times bestselling humorist Michael Perry makes his fiction debut with this hilarious and big-hearted tale, a comic yet sincere exploration of faith and the foibles of modern life that blends the barbed charm of Garrison Keillor, the irreverent humor of Christopher Moore, and the audacious insight of Chuck Klosterman.
Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor's heart, a Hummer-driving predatory developer is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm, and inside his barn is a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. His best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to avoid the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called "a scene."
Then the secret gets out--right through the barn door, and Harley's "miracle" goes viral. Within hours pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a percentage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want--and raise enough money to keep his land--and, just possibly, win the woman and her big red pickup truck?
Harley goes all in, cutting a deal with a major Hollywood agent that transforms his little farm into an international spiritual theme park--think Lourdes, only with cheese curds and t-shirts. Soon, Harley has lots of money . . . and more trouble than he ever dreamed.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Perry’s (Population: 485) latest is an amiable and quirky exploration of Christian beliefs, set against the backdrop of economically depressed rural Wisconsin. Bachelor Harley has been forced to sell portions of his family’s farm to developers over the years just to stay afloat. But on Christmas Eve, his beef cow goes into labor, delivers a calf that bears the unmistakable image of Jesus on her hide, and Harley knows his life is about to change—whether it’s for the better or not, however, is unclear. Harley initially attempts to hide the Jesus Cow, but word quickly gets out, and soon everyone in town has an opinion. There’s Klute Sorensen, the Hummer-driving developer intent on suing Harley right out of his home. Carolyn Sawchuck, a disgraced academic, rents the old water tower and shack on one edge of Harley’s land. And then there’s Billy, Harley’s friend, whose help is well intentioned but usually comes in the form of old country lyrics dispensed over a bottle of beer. Perry’s novel wrestles with some big issues—religion, environmentalism, community—but he resists letting his narrative get too bogged down in them. The result is a purposeful story that doesn’t overwhelm, an often charming read that rarely takes itself too seriously. (May)