Off Main Street by P-HarpercollinsPubl

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Whether he's fighting fires, passing a kidney stone, hammering down I-80 in an 18-wheeler, or meditating on the relationship between cowboys and God, Michael Perry draws on his rural roots and footloose past to write from a perspective that merges the local with the global.Ranging across subjects as diverse as lot lizards, Klan wizards, and small-town funerals, Perry's writing in this wise and witty collection of essays balances earthiness with poetry, kinetics with contemplation, and is regularly salted with his unique brand of humor.

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									Off Main Street
Author: Michael Perry
Description

Whether he's fighting fires, passing a kidney stone, hammering down I-80 in an 18-wheeler, or meditating
on the relationship between cowboys and God, Michael Perry draws on his rural roots and footloose past
to write from a perspective that merges the local with the global.Ranging across subjects as diverse as
lot lizards, Klan wizards, and small-town funerals, Perry's writing in this wise and witty collection of
essays balances earthiness with poetry, kinetics with contemplation, and is regularly salted with his
unique brand of humor.
Excerpt

One summer day when I was a child, a rocket rose through the snow in Oleander Caporelli's television,
headed for the moon. I have always believed Neil Armstrong was on that rocket, bound to make his giant
leap formankind -- but my little brother, who recalls the same scene, believes we saw a later mission. He
was just two years old in 1969, and doubts he would remember Apollo 11. We do agree that we sat
together on the Caporellis' floor and watched a launch, our heads tipped back as if we were tracking the
ship itself into the stratosphere. The television sat on a shelfhigh above the fireplace mantel, the power
cord clipped to a car battery. The Caporellis lived deep in the Wisconsin woods, in a small house without
electricity. We had electricity on our farm, but no television, and so, with history in the air, Mom loaded
us into the car and drove us down the snaking,dead-end dirt road that wound around the old cranberry
bog, up a sharp hill, and then hairpinned back on itself in a long decline leading to the Caporelli place. For
the last five hundred yards, the driveway ran parallel to a narrow cow pasture that doubled as a
runway.Crazy Joe Caporelli hung billboards for a living, but he had also trained fighter pilots in the Middle
East. So the locals told it, anyway; or some said Korea, and others said he had been a test pilot, and
you got to where you entertained all versions, because Crazy Joe had a way with wings. He carvedus
balsa wood jets the size of dragonflies. If you flung them low, they swooped high. Crazy Joe said the
secret was in the tiny wire counterweight he crimped over the nose of each craft. Crazy Joe built a jet out
there in the woods. I remember the tubular cowling on his garage floor, remember CrazyJoe with his
goggles and gas welder. But when he bolted the engine to a hand-built fuselage, pointed the nose down
his dandelion runway and throttled up, the jet wash incinerated the tail works. Later, he repaired the tail,
switched the jet engine for a snowmobile engine, and got the rig airborne, but the Chippewa County jet
age never took off.Mostly Crazy Joe flew his homemade canvas two-seater. Summer evenings, our yard
would go dark early, the sun blocked by the tall white pines sheltering the house and barn, but the
sunlight that cleared the treetops gave everything to the east -- the oat fields, the popple trees, the fence
rows -- a deep swab of color, a promise for the morning, as it were.And just when everything was glowing,
there would come a buzzing from the northeast, and Crazy Joe would clear the treetops, flying through
the last of the sun, his plane bright as a little red wagon against the blue sky. It was an evening ritual as
common as the deer emerging in the meadows.Some nights, after the cows were milked, and Joe had
flown home, Dad took us swimming. He drove us to Fish Lake and sat on the grassy bank reading the
paper. We swam and splashed until it got so dark Dad could no longer keep track of us. When he stood
up, it was time to go. One day some men came to build a steel shed behind our barn. It was abominably
hot, and at noon, Dad loaded the entire crew into the truck and hauled them to the lake. It was a rare
treat to swim in bright sunlight. I scissor-kicked beneath the surface with my eyes wide open, trying to
touch bluegills. At night, the sunfish appeared dark green, almost gray. Here at high noon, they hung in
the underwater sunbeams like electrified ornaments. If you stabbed your hand out quickly, you might
brush a fin before they flashed away. Given a reprieve from gravity, I hovered above the lake bed until my
lungs ached for air.Crazy Joe used to climb...
Author Bio
Michael Perry
Michael Perry is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling memoir Population: 485 in addition
to the essay collection Off Main Street. He lives in Wisconsin.

								
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