LISTEN NOW: New fiction from Michael Perry
Perry’s to-be-released novel for adults shows a town reeling when the face of Jesus appears on a cow’s hide
Michael Perry is the kind of author who makes you scrap your lead sentence five times when you write about him. His prose is so full of poignant adjectives it’s like a silage-stuffed silo at the end of autumn – warm, pungent, and ready to nourish.
To be published in May, The Jesus Cow is Perry’s debut in the world of humorous fiction for adults. But it’s not a huge leap at all from ground Perry has trod both in his life and memoirs, which include Population: 485, Truck, Coop, and Visiting Tom. It’s set in the town of Swivel, which seems to bear a resemblance to many of the small towns in the northern part of the Chippewa Valley.
“Because it’s a comic novel, I’m allowed to fall back on broad humor and create goofball scenes. I mean, it’s fiction. I made it up ... well, 17 percent is true.” – cross-genre writer Michael Perry
It all begins with us meeting Harley Jackson, a farmer who lives outside of Swivel. Harley is a stoic guy who is trying to save his farm from local developer, Klute Sorensen. Perry says that Klute is the kind of antagonist who draws his power from the fact that he, “came from a town of four rather than three digits.”
As the title suggests there is a cow, or calf when we meet it, with the face of Jesus on its hide. When Harley sees the calf he exclaims, “Well, that’s trouble!”
And trouble is what Harley finds as he first tries to hide the Jesus cow and then ultimately allows his life to become engulfed with the unavoidable throngs of people eager to actualize their beliefs.
Along the way The Jesus Cow grapples with the themes of true faith, individualism, and what it means to be part of a spectacle for your own greater good.
But, Perry says the novel doesn’t get too caught up in the existential. He says, “Because it’s a comic novel I’m allowed to fall back on broad humor and create goofball scenes.”
“I mean it’s fiction, I made it up,” he continues, “well, 17 percent is true.”
The Jesus Cow comes out next May – listen to Perry reading a preview from the novel: