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The beloved memoirist and bestselling author of Population: 485 reflects on the lessons he's learned from his unlikely alter ego, French Renaissance philosopher Michel de Montaigne.

"The journey began on a gurney," writes Michael Perry, describing the debilitating kidney stone that led him to discover the essays of Michel de Montaigne. Reading the philosopher in a manner he equates to chickens pecking at scraps - including those eye-blinking moments when the bird gobbles something too big to swallow - Perry attempts to learn what he can (good and bad) about himself as compared to a long-dead French nobleman who began speaking Latin at the age of two, went to college instead of kindergarten, worked for kings, and once had an audience with the Pope. Perry "matriculated as a barn-booted bumpkin who still marks a second-place finish in the sixth-grade spelling bee as an intellectual pinnacle . . . and once said hello to Merle Haggard on a golf cart."

Written in a spirit of exploration rather than declaration, Montaigne in Barn Boots is a down-to-earth (how do you pronounce that last name?) look into the ideas of a philosopher "ensconced in a castle tower overlooking his vineyard," channeled by a midwestern American writing "in a room above the garage overlooking a disused pig pen." Whether grabbing an electrified fence, fighting fires, failing to fix a truck, or feeding chickens, Perry draws on each experience to explore subjects as diverse as faith, race, sex, aromatherapy, and Prince. But he also champions academics and aesthetics, in a book that ultimately emerges as a sincere, unflinching look at the vital need to be a better person and citizen.



About the Author

Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a New York Times bestselling author, humorist and radio show host from New Auburn, Wisconsin. Perry's bestselling memoirs include Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, Coop, and Visiting Tom. Raised on a small Midwestern dairy farm, Perry put himself through nursing school while working on a ranch in Wyoming, then wound up writing by happy accident. He lives with his wife and two daughters in rural Wisconsin, where he serves on the local volunteer fire and rescue service and is an amateur pig farmer. He hosts the nationally-syndicated "Tent Show Radio," performs widely as a humorist, and tours with his band the Long Beds (currently recording their third album for Amble Down Records) . He has recorded three live humor albums including Never Stand Behind A Sneezing Cow and The Clodhopper Monologues, is currently finishing his first young adult novel, and can be found online at Perry's essays and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Backpacker, Outside, Runner's World, Salon. com, and he is a contributing editor to Men's Health magazine. His writing assignments have taken him to the top of Mt. Rainier with Iraq War veterans, into the same room as the frozen head of Ted Williams, across the United States with truckers and country music singers, and - once - buck naked into a spray-tan booth. In the essay collection Off Main Street, Perry wrote of how his nursing education prepared him to become a writer by training him in human assessment, and he credits singer-songwriters like Steve Earle and John Prine with helping him understand that art need not wear fancy clothes. Above all, he gives credit to his parents, of whom he says, "Anything good is because of them, everything else is simply not their fault. " His mother taught him to read and filled the house with books; his father taught him how to clean calf pens, of which Perry has written, "a childhood spent slinging manure - the metaphorical basis for a writing career. "Perry has recently been involved in several musical collaborations, including as lyricist for Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Geoffrey Keezer, and as co-writer (with Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon) of the liner notes for the John Prine tribute album "Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows. " Perry also collaborated with Vernon and Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne on a project that began when Vernon approached Perry and said, "Say, you're a nurse ... " The results were bloody, but then that was the point. Of all his experiences, Perry says the single most meaningful thing he has ever done is serving 12 years beside his neighbors on the New Auburn Area Fire Department. Mike says:If I had to sum up my 'career' in one word, it would be gratitude. I get to write and tell stories all around the country, then come home to be with my family and hang out at the local feed mill complainin



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