Two ‘New’ Collections from Michael Perry Span Decades of Writing

"Big Boy's Big Rig: The Leftovers" and "Million Billion" comprise old essays, new takes

Rebecca Mennecke, photos by Andrea Paulseth

"A BIG HEART FROM A SMALL PLACE": Michael Perry recently self-published two new books, which are available at his website (sneezingcow.com) as well as at The Local Store, among other places.

“The very best part of working with some of my oldest work and some of my most recent simultaneously was realizing how much I still love the gig,” Chippewa Valley author Michael Perry said about his two new publications, Million Billion and Big Boy’s Big Rig: The Leftovers, which both came out in May.

Big Rig takes some of Perry’s writing from the 1990s and adds additional insights from 2020. Million Billion is a fresh collection of his “Roughneck Grace” newspaper columns for the Wisconsin State Journal – writing with a “big heart from a small place,” according to the back cover.

While compiling his old essays to put the books together, Perry was able to see his writing progress throughout the years. Though he admits he’s improved since 1995, he said he hopes to convey that he is just as eager to write now as he was back then.

With some “goofball observations,” Perry said he cherishes “the privilege of reflection and revisions.”

“And I hope both collections are consistent in betraying my predisposition to root for hope and those who give us hope,” he said.

I hope both collections are consistent in betraying my predisposition to root for hope and those who give us hope.” –Michael Perry, author 

Though Perry has two books under contract with “regular” publishers, he said about half his family’s income derives from him “running around telling stories and singing songs.” When the coronavirus hit, he had to adjust his hustle. Since the books aren’t a great fit for your average publisher, he decided to go back to his DIY roots (check out the intro to Big Boy’s Big Rig for more on that!) and self-publish – which has helped cover costs of groceries, health insurance, and college tuition, he said.

“Under all them dumb cow jokes,” Perry said, “I am a stubborn clodhopper who despises people who try to glorify things they’ve never lived.”

Big Boy’s Big Rig: The Leftovers and Million Billion are available for purchase at The Local Store, among other places. More work by Michael Perry is available on his website, sneezingcow.com.