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Monday, July 16, 2007

Truck: A Love Story

Michael Perry, author of Truck: A Love Story, seems like the kind of guy who, if he liked you, would befriend you for life, one of those people who really recognizes the important things in life and who is able to laugh at himself and his various little failures along the way. Thank God, though, that he doesn't live next door to me. Call me crazy, but I would find it hard to live with a neighbor who abandons an old pickup truck in front of his house so long that it sinks a couple of inches into the asphalt or who rolls a broken washing machine off of his back porch where it lays on its side for several months. But that's just me.

Perry, on the other hand, sees those options as indicative of the good life and that's the attitude that makes him, and the year that he describes in this book, so interesting. Approaching 40, Perry has settled nicely into the life he has carved out for himself. Still single, and with no marriage prospects in sight, he decides that this is the year that he will finally get that old 1951 International Harvester L-120 pickup truck restored and running again. With the help of his fix-anything brother-in-law who has just the place to work on the truck, Perry begins a project early in the year that he hopes will result in the truck being available to him in time for deer season at the end of the year.

Truck is, indeed, a love story. Perry's love for the rusting old truck that he parked for so long is obvious as he reminisces about his long history with the vehicle and how important a part it played in his life. Although he is not nearly the mechanic to tackle this kind of job on his own, but because of his brother-in-law's skills and help, the reader is able to watch the truck slowly come back to life and comes to feel almost as happy about the progress as Perry feels.

Michael Perry's original plans for 2003 could be summarized this way: get the old truck running in time for Wisconsin's deer season, plant his small garden and harvest enough from it to fill his freezer with vegetables for the winter, continue his work with the local volunteer fire department, spend time on the road supporting his last book, and supplement his income with some work as the qualified private nurse that he is. Little did he know at the beginning of the year that his world was to be changed forever by year's end.

And that's where the rest of Perry's love story begins. A speaking engagement at his local library ends with a brief encounter with the woman who will come to be such a significant part of his 2003. Gradually, but in the way that gradualness can seem so sudden in hindsight, Perry starts to really feel the possibility of a long term commitment that might even lead to the marriage that he no longer envisioned for himself.

I enjoy personal memoirs written by the kind of people whom I might find myself seated next to at the local waffle house but I almost passed Truck by because I have so little interest in the details involved in restoring or customizing old cars or trucks. But the book's cover caught my eye and, after flipping through it for a couple of minutes, I decided that it might be interesting after all. I'm grateful that I took a chance on it because, having gotten to know Michael Perry now, I think that I've found a new friend, a guy whose work I'll watch for in the future.

Rated at: 4.0
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