Unlike Michael Perry’s classic book, Population 485: Meting Your Neighbors One Siren At A Time, his latest book, Truck: A Love Story is a merely adequate effort.Truck marks the time through a year spent restoring an old International Harvester pickup truck that had been rusting away in Perry’s back yard for the last twenty years or so. It’s a nice idea, but it isn’t really the central focus of the book, and at at times, it seems as though Perry is straining to tie together the truck restoration with whatever is going on in his life. The use of the truck’s restoration to track time seems even more meaningless when you realize that his brother-in-law does most of the heavy lifting for the restoration.
Perry helps out with the restoration, but because his help is minimal, the truck often is relegated to a paragraph or two at the end of the chapter.
Since his last book was so well received, Perry now spends a non-trivial amount of time on the road attending readings and meetings editors. This invariably leads to discussion of the differences between life in small-town Wisconsin and New York City. However, we already know that most people who live in those quite disparate places live different lives. We’re not necessarily seeking validation of that fact. What we’re seeking is what made Population 485 interesting: Perry’s examination and revelation of the complex and deep lives led by ordinary people.
In the end, Truck: A Love Story is tolerable reading, but it doesn’t break any new ground and it won’t displace any books from your mental list of the Top Ten Books of All Time.