Population: 485

Population: 485

by Michael Perry

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Overview

Mike Perry’s extraordinary and thoughtful account of meeting the people of his small hometown by joining the fire and rescue team was a breakout hit that “swells with unadorned heroism” (USA Today)

Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin (population: 485) where the local vigilante is a farmer’s wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Michael Perry loves this place. He grew up here, and now-after a decade away-he has returned.

Unable to polka or repair his own pickup, his farm-boy hands gone soft after years of writing, Mike figures the best way to regain his credibility is to join the volunteer fire department. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, he tells a frequently comic tale leavened with moments of heartbreaking delicacy and searing tragedy.

Tracing his calls on a map in the little firehouse, he sees “a dense, benevolent web, spun one frantic zigzag at a time” from which the story of a tiny town emerges.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061363504
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/25/2015
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 280
Sales rank: 129,552
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Perry is a humorist, radio host, songwriter, and the New York Times bestselling author of several nonfiction books, including Visiting Tom and Population: 485, as well as a novel, The Jesus Cow. He lives in northern Wisconsin with his family and can be found online at www.sneezingcow.com.

What People are Saying About This

Adrienne Miller

“This is a quietly devastating book—intimate and disarming and lovely.”

Customer Reviews

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Population 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
DanDman8 More than 1 year ago
Could not put it done. You can tell when a writter loves the material. Write about what you know, Mike knows his material...his life. Very funny.
porch_reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We are reading Population: 485 for my real-life book club this month. In it, Michael Perry shares his unique perspective on the small Wisconsin town in which he lives. After being away for a number of years, he returned to his hometown and joined the fire department. As volunteer firefighter and first responder, he is called to help neighbors who he has known for years and even family members. While the book as a whole is a bit disconnected, there are passages that are beautifully written about his experiences as a firefighter and about the experience of living in a small town. I grew up in a town of just over 300 and currently live in a town of just over 2000, and I was impressed at Perry's ability to capture the experience of small town life.
sproutchild on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite of his books. Loved the small town stories and pictures painted of the people who inhabit it. Reading Truck: A Love Story now, and not finding it to be as engaging.
helpfulsnowman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good book about a man finding his way back home. After leaving, Michael Perry returns to small-town Wisconsin where he works as an on-call first-responder with the fire department. When I described the book to a friend, he was afraid it would dip into schmaltzy territory, stories of charming old folks on the porch and helmet-thumping firefighter pride. Well, it doesn't. It presents the magic of a small town without pushing it into talking about the good ol days or any of that nonsense. Personally, I prefer Perry's Truck: a Love Story, but this is a good one too and is of special interest to anyone involved in the medical profession.
ferdinand1213 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was an important part of my naturalization as a Wisconsinite. I would definitely recommend it.
HistReader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great and interesting view into the volunteers who staff small town ambulance services. As a skillful author, Michael Perry will keep those unfamiliar with field medicine engaged.
omniavanitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found the writing style a little hard to get into at first. It's a bit precious for my taste, but I did enjoy the book ultimately. He doesn't romanticize, but the stories are interesting.
courtneygood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this soon after I read Ambulance Girl by Jane Stern (which I highly recommend). Population 485 is Michael Perry's account of small town life and work as a fireman. It's very random, and pretty entertaining.
dawng on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I heard this author speak on Wisconsin Public Radio and fell in love with him. I wish I could say the same about the book. For some reason, I just couldn't get into it. I will try it again, someday.
crom74 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Definitely worthy of a read. This is a good book chronicling one man's (and one community's) ties and bonds over the years. As one reviewer stated, it is random, but I think random in a good way. You get a good view of various things that happen that are all interconnected. I love small towns.
KimHeniadis More than 1 year ago
This was a fantastic read, although I may be a bit biased since I live in a small village in Wisconsin. Michael Perry is a wonderful storyteller, and his those skills shine in this memoir. Even though this is a small town, I think readers will see many similarities with people in their own neighborhoods, even if you live in a big city. Perry often says that he stays a bit apart from the community, but the way he writes with such depth and emotion about the various people in the town, makes it feel otherwise. And how he incorporates local history, at just the right moment, is done perfectly. It never feels jarring to go from reading about one of his neighbors, to reading about how the local fire department was formed. For me, sometimes reading about history can be a bit dull, but Perry makes it interesting, adding a touch of humor to lighten it up a bit. Learning about first responders was another very interesting part to this book. I have never realized that they do so much. Besides being there while the crisis is happening, they also stick around afterwards to clean up the scene. And the fact that they are volunteers, making very little money, and still being on call pretty much 24/7, is amazing. They give so much to their community without asking for anything in return. Although some of the scenes are graphic, Perry doesn’t write them that way for shock value, and it made me think even more highly of the people who do this, and all they have to deal with. I highly, highly recommend this book. And if you have the time, encourage you to volunteer as a first responder.
LovesBooksMA More than 1 year ago
I am ordering this book! Michael Perry is a gifted storyteller; I've enjoyed his other books and looking forward to Population 485.
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Funny, thoughtful and insightful.
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Donna Huntress More than 1 year ago
this is one of my favorite books. you are tempted to readit outloud to your friends.
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Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Michael Perry returns back to his home town, New Auburn, Wisconsin. A town in Northwestern Wisconsin, Population 485. He left 10 years ago and landed in Wyoming were he worked as a cowboy and put himself through nursing school. Now he is home, has bought a house on Main Street and is happy to be closer to his mother and brothers. Both his brothers belong to the fire department and his mother is a first responder for the area. Michael decides the best way to reconnect with the community is to join the fire department and use his nursing training to study to become an EMT and his mother joins him in the class. This is your typical small town, everyone knows everything about everybody, and Michael thinks it's the perfect place to write. Using the emergency calls, grass and chimney fires, accidents and dinners as background for his stories he brings the little town to life on the pages of this book. Humor and tragedy, heartbreak and devastating heartache we meet Michael's neighbors one siren at a time. I LIKED IT!!!! I had several reasons for wanting to read this book. First, when I started this blog I challenged myself to read books written by Wisconsin authors or that used Wisconsin as the setting for the story. This books meets both those requirements. Secondly, I am from a small town in Wisconsin, a little bigger than New Auburn, but growing up there was pure joy and at that time, everyone knew everything about everybody. That town has changed and grown and is no longer the town of my memories. Also while growing up in that small town, my father was a fireman, later the fire chief, and when the fire department was in charge of the ambulance service he was the equivalent of what is now an EMT or First Responder. He even had the Fire Training School at Madison Area Technical College dedicated to him just 2 weeks after he died. The stories in this book were wonderfully told and brought back so many memories. It prompted a call to my sister who had also read the book some time ago and we spent an hour reminiscing about our dad, who passed away in 1988, some of the stories were so funny, we wish we could write a book. Thank you Michael Perry for writing this book and giving us our Dad back for a few minutes. Michael Perry has the gift of storytelling and anyone who likes to read about life in a small town, firefighters, EMTs, or anyone who believes in giving back will appreciate and truly enjoy this book. If you would just like to read a good story told by a fresh voice you will like this book. Note: This book was published in 2002 and new copies of this book may be hard to find but there are plenty used copies available at both Barnes & Noble.com and Amazon.com. This book was from my private collection. No compensation was received.
neccy More than 1 year ago
i expected much more from this book than i got..while the idea was great.i was expecting the writing to be (lets say) more small town..i sometimes felt as if i were reading about two different stories..one down to earth and the other written by a rhodes scholar who didn't seem to belong in a small town..it was a difficult book to finish...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My husband is a volunteer firefighter, and we both grew up - and now live - in a very small rural community. I can relate to this author and his anecdotes. I wouldn't say it's necessarily the most intriguing book I've ever read, but it made me laugh right out loud (honestly!) and also cry with empathy at some of his experiences. I think Perry is an interesting person whose writing style is enjoyable to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago