UPDATE: BOOK IS NOW OUT AND AVAILABLE. Mike’s latest book, Forty Acres Deep, releases this week, Thursday, 1.19.23. It will be available in the Sneezing Cow store this Thursday or Friday. Ebook and audiobook available soon thereafter. This is what we call a “soft” release. Within the month your local bookstore will be able to obtain the book via Ingram (they’ll know what that means) or they can contact us directly for ordering information.
If you are in the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, vicinity, there will be a book launch at the Local Store this Thursday, 1.19.23, at 7PM. The event is free and seats are limited so y’might want to arrive early. Details here. Mike will be joined by musician S. Carey (with special guest Ben Lester) for an hour of prose and music introducing Forty Acres Deep–including a discussion of how Carey’s album Break Me Open influenced the writing. Book and album signing to follow. (Thank you all who attended, including those who stood.)
When farmer Harold wakes to find his wife dead beside him in bed and snow threatening to crush the last life from his dwindling farm, he takes drastic steps toward a fresh start. Set in a world of stark wintry beauty, Forty Acres Deep is the brief, unrelenting tale of a farmer’s attempt to save the remains of his land and make sense of a world he no longer recognizes while pitilessly calling himself into account after the death of his wife and child. Seamed with grim humor and earthy revelations, it is an unforgiving story…and yet leaves open the idea that we might surrender to hope.
“I’m nervous about this one,” says author Michael Perry. “Not sure how folks will take it. Or if I should have even written it.”
Perry hatched the idea for the novella (a work of fiction shorter than a novel but longer than a short story) while fighting to save his two steel sheds from collapsing beneath a record-breaking snowfall. “I’m a softhanded writer with a couple pole barns mostly full of junk,” says Perry, “As I sweated and cursed and kneed through the drifts, I kept thinking, what if I was a real farmer, fighting to save my livelihood? Barns went down all over the state that winter. It was no joke.”
“In part I’m attempting to honor the old farming traditions,” says Perry, “but the main character is also fighting his own misguided sentimentality–the bullheadedness that keeps us hanging on when we should let go. As a farmer and a citizen he’s facing suppressed rage and powerlessness in the face of change. As a husband, he’s facing all the ways you can fall short in a marriage even as you meet the standard definition. As a parent, he’s confronting–or avoiding–the worst grief imaginable. And as a human he’s brought face-to-face with those for whom the world offers no easy space.”
“Despite the storyline, there’s some humor in there,” says Perry. “I’ve been reading bits aloud at my shows and folks do laugh. Grim chuckles, not knee-slappers. But yah, mostly this one’s not a lotta zippity-doo-dah.” Due to the serious themes, Perry shared the manuscript with farmers and members of the agricultural mental health movement before committing to publish it.
Want to be the first to know when Mike has a new book, or is coming to your area? Please sign up for the email list.