Very happy to announce that the audiobook versions of Coop and Truck (both read by Mike) are now available from Audible.com.
Also happy to announce that the audiobook version of Coop is available from iTunes. HOWEVER: The version of TRUCK that is on iTunes is NOT narrated by me…this is due to a mixup too labyrinthine to explain and is currently being rectified (nothing nefarious, the voice talent is a great guy, this had to do with miscommunication). When the proper version is posted, we’ll link, you bet.
If you still prefer your audiobooks on CD, hang in there, they’re in the hopper.
An improvisational painting by Carol Berning based on the Prologue to Coop:
And the prologue in question:
At the earliest edges of my memory, my father is plowing, and I am running behind him. I see my feet, going pat-pat-pat over the soil, I see my father, left hand on the wheel, right forearm braced against the fender, head turning back to check the depth of the plow, then forward to gauge his progress. The soil is red and sandy in the high spots and dark and loamy in the low spots, where it curls from the plowshares like strips of licorice, leaving me this square, shin-deep trough in which to travel. I trail the sound of the little tractor, so close to ground I can hear the soft plop of the overturned clods. Now and then the plow slices the soil so cleanly that a chubby white grub drops into the furrow, unscathed. The grubs are translucent white, their black guts dimly visible, as if through rice paper. Grackles and cow-birds flock the plow, pecking through the new-turned dirt. The grub will not last long. There is my father on his underpowered Ford Ferguson, and there is me trotting right behind him, and there is God above, looking down as I run the straight groove of the furrow, my life laid out on a line drawn in the earth.
Rather than acknowledge the sn*w, here’s a photo of a chicken by a pool in Panama. When I took the photo I was working on the book Visiting Tom. I did most of the final revisions within 50 yards of warm surf. Checking my passport now…
Was up until after midnight constructing enclosed chicken ramp (long story, part of perpetually evolving poultry master plan, stage eleventeen) when at 1 a.m. it struck me that I should today re-draw attention to the fact that crisp new signed hardcover editions of COOP (not Co-op, although that’s fine too) are on sale for same price as paperbacks. Just look here.
Every week the Wisconsin State Journal runs “Roughneck Grace,” a weekly column written by Mike (many of the columns will be adapted from Mike’s Tent Show Radio monologues). Today’s column (about achieving inner peace via pigs, the cosmos, and Victoria’s Secret) was printed on sturdy newsprint this Sunday and can now be seen online here.
In studio recording the audiobook version of Coop. Snow’s piled up to the dang eaves, so it’s been a mood-booster to read the chapter about hay baling. The excerpt below refers to the time I made my daughter harvest her own timothy hay to feed her guinea pig (after I discovered the pet store sold it for $18,560 a ton). If you don’t know of Fred Eaglesmith, know this–he is the realest sort of real deal:
You won’t find many hay-baling songs out there, but Fred Eaglesmith wrote a dandy called “Balin’ Again,” and there’s a line in there about a man surveying his hayfields while having an imaginary conversation with his father. Sure could use your advice on how to raise a couple kids, he says, I’m tryin’ to raise ’em just the way you did.
So I’m thinking of Fred as I watch my poor daughter again a week later, snipping more timothy and, yes, weeping. The things we do to the children.
If ever I needed more proof that I stand with one foot in the literary world and the other in the pig pen, this email removes all doubt:
My wife Amy is currently reading Coop. On the way back to St. Paul from visiting my mom in Bloomer, she was reading in the car about one of your trips to Farm & Fleet and specifically about the salt blocks. Since she grew up “in town” in Lake City, MN, she previously had no idea what a salt block was. We had already planned on stopping at Fleet Farm in Menomonie, since it was “on the way” because I was out of peanuts. Fleet Farm Virginia peanuts are the best peanuts I have tasted (much better than Fishers or Planters) and I highly recommend them. So while we were there, I took her to the Farm aisle so she could touch a salt block (she did not lick it though). She was surprised at how smooth it was. I also pointed out the milk replacer and alfalfa cubes.
This little field trip definitely enhanced her reading experience.