Home of Michael Perry – New York Times Bestselling Author, Humorist, Singer/Songwriter, Intermittent Pig Farmer


Why I Love Indies

If you’re planning a whitewater rafting trip down an alligator-infested lava flow without a life preserver, may I suggest you retain the manager of your local independent bookstore as a guide? In the world of books and publishing, few have been more buffeted by change and circumstance than your local “indie,” and if there’s one still standing in your neighborhood, I can pretty much guarantee its run by hard-working optimistic survivors with one potentially fatal weakness: they love books, and just won’t quit.

And thank goodness for that. Thirteen years ago, when Population 485 was released, it was hand-sold into existence by independent booksellers–but they just won’t quit.

How do I know?

Because thirteen years later, out of the blue, I get an email with proof that the indie crew is still out there, hand-selling every day:

2015 MIBA list

I don’t know why it’s back on the list. But I know it didn’t pop back up there on its own. Thank you, indies.


New Paperback Covers

Over the next year, Harper Perennial is re-releasing my paperbacks with new covers, each designed by the same artist who designed the cover of The Jesus Cow.

New cover art always elicits varying reactions, including from me, but in short, I’m grateful my publisher is doing this, as it is a way for all of my backlist to have a similar look, thus making it easier for new readers to identify them as a group despite their various subjects. Also, as I have learned over the past 20 years, change often leads to unexpected new opportunities.

First up is Population 485:


The original cover of Population 485 will always be my favorite, in no small part because it was created by my dear friends John Shimon and Julie Lindemann, who have been an integral part of my work since the 1990s. As such, until they run out, we’ll be keeping some copies of the classic cover in stock here at the Sneezing Cow store. But we’ve also set up this fun deal: All orders for copies of the new edition will include an autographed copy of an early “Population 485” paperpack promotional postcard (which features the original cover art by Shimon Lindemann) signed by Mike.



Tent Show Tomorrow: Della Mae

If you’re within range of one of these stations tomorrow (Saturday, October 3rd) we hope you’ll join Mike as he hosts another edition of Tent Show Radio from Big Top Chautauqua. Information on streaming the show here.  You can join the Tent Show Radio Facebook page here.

In this episode’s monologue – delivered from the backstage dressing room with the one lonely little lightbulb burnin’ –Mike tells a little story about his neighbor, Tom, and what he did when his cuckoo clock wouldn’t koo.  You can join the Tent Show Radio Facebook page here.

REMINDER: Most of this year’s previous Tent Show Radio episodes available for streaming anytime – just click here. 

New Writing Lesson for an Old Dog

At 50, and about 25 years into this accidental author thing (cheesehead farm boy with a nursing degree stumbles into typing), I lately find myself regularly revisiting–both in life and in writing–how best to navigate whatever time remains. In fact, I was noodling on this idea in a recent newspaper column:

Having crossed the 50-year yard line, I’m as susceptible as the next person to fond reminiscence and the temptations of revisitation and regurgitation as a substitute for facing the future. Or encouraging the future. My demeanor is a perpetual minute-by-minute work in progress, but one of the things I’ve really been focusing on lately is the way folks seem to take one of two turns as they age: some dig their heels in and make themselves as wide as possible so as to hold back the tide; others keep moving forward while re-energizing themselves on the power of the young and the new. Somewhere in there is the balance, and I’m nowhere near to achieving it, but lately am leaning toward the second path. And for the record, I am talking about trying new thoughts and ideas as opposed to getting a sporty car or a new hairstyle. Regarding the former, I prefer old pickups; regarding the latter, the options just aren’t there.

It is popular to impugn social media as a low-culture time-suck, and I’m a guy who’s watched a few slo-mo puke GIFs in his time, but our interconnected electronic world is also a glorious thicket of tangents often leading to enlightenment. That is for a much longer essay, but in short we are led to learn things we need to learn, even if by accident, and we learn them from people that in another life and time we would have never come to know.

I’ve never met Daniel José Older. As I recall someone sent me to his Twitter feed because we’re both writers with backgrounds in EMS. We’ve shared a few brief electronic exchanges but beyond that he’s working at his thing and I’m working at mine. He’s a young writer coming on strong, and I couldn’t be happier for him when he gets another bit of good publishing news. But I’m also grateful for a world in which I can reside in rural Wisconsin and take lessons–cultural and professional–from a man in Brooklyn. For instance, this video led to me changing the way I approached the italicization of non-English words in The Jesus Cow and all books to follow.

School was in session again today, when Daniel wrote about writing and self-discipline. As a self-employed freelancer with kids to feed, I am definitely of the “put-your-ass-in-the-chair” school. (OK, the put-yer-tennies-on-the-treadmill school). I love (and live for) the mystery, the magic, the spirituality, and the transcendence of the creative process, but I am also a flat-out matter of fact blue-collar clodhopper: you wanna be a writer, you write. Every day.

And then I read this. And I say, y’know what? Daniel José Older is right.

This weekend I’ll be speaking at a writers conference. The “how do you write?” question will be a given. As of this morning, I’m working up a fresh answer. No big revolution. Just moving forward. Re-energizing myself on the power of the young and the new.

From the Box: Mug Shot

Even at my non-famous level (9 out of 10 times no one recognizes me at the Farm & Fleet) (and then half the time it’s a relative, neighbor, or Moose Country 106.7 listener), my calendar is such that I meet many, many thoughtful people in passing and simply cannot do justice to their kindnesses or adequately recognize their hard work or support their latest project the way they might hope. I keep a box of books and notes and CDs and miscellaneous objects given to me on the road, and when I can I jot a note or make a mention. Thus, Posts from the Box.


My favorite coffee cup. Given to me by a reader who remains to this day one of only two unrelated people to recognize me in an airport. You don’t need lectures on aesthetics from a lunk like me, but this cup: porcelain rim and interior for pure coffee experience, brushed stainless steel for sturdiness and machinery vibe, rubberized base and handle to reduce clunking and assist the clumsy.

So many kindnesses along the way, and some revisit me daily.