Visiting Tom

A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace

By Michael Perry
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061894442, 320pp.)

Publication Date: August 2012

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Description

What can we learn about life, love, and artillery from an eighty-two-year-old man whose favorite hobby is firing his homemade cannons? Visit by visitoften with his young daughters in towauthor Michael Perry is about to find out.

Toiling in a shop Perry describes as "an antique store stocked by Rube Goldberg, curated by Hunter Thompson, and rearranged by a small earthquake," Tom Hartwig makes gag shovel handles, parts for quarter-million-dollar farm equipment, andnow and thenbatches of potentially "extralegal" explosives. As he approaches his sixtieth wedding anniversary with his wife, Arlene, Tom, famous for driving a team of oxen in local parades, has an endless reservoir of stories dating back to days of his prize Model A, and an anti-authoritarian streak refreshed daily by the four-lane interstate that was shoved through his front yard in 1965 and now dumps over 8 million vehicles past his kitchen window every year. And yet Visiting Tom is dominated by the elderly man's equanimity and ultimatelywhen he and Perry converse over the kitchen table as husbands and as the fathers of daughtersunvarnished tenderness.




About the Author
Michael Perry was raised on a small dairy farm near New Auburn, Wisconsin, and put himself through nursing school working as a cowboy in Wyoming. As of this writing, he is the only member of the New Auburn Area Fire Department to have missed the monthly meeting because of a poetry reading.
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