Monday, July 26, 2010

Pressboard and Oil Paint

Over the weekend I finished Michael Perry's Truck: A Love Story; something that I'd picked up on a lark and come back to after suffering from a surfeit of Roger Whitakker videos and, as you may recall, being high on nostalgia and rain.

The book floated congenially on this mix, being a memoir that was gentle and humorous. I was surprised to find that it seemed to fit like a puzzle piece in the evolution of reading that began with a book of my dad's when I was young: an old farm picture book with glossy auburn bulls and dark brown horses and flecked chickens all painted on a perfect day beneath a clear wash. It wasn't something that was familiar to me--I was a suburban kid--but it would have been familiar to my grandfather and my dad (and to my husband, had I known him then), but it was full of the kind of images that came out of the books that I was reading at the time. Later on, it would be superseded by biographies of Sacagawea, a series of Anne of Green Gables books, a series of Wizard of Oz books, and Little House on the Prairie. Then To Kill a Mockingbird. Books that had (no disrespect intended) a certain perspective on dust and the ways in which people moved through it. The things that cling to a life well-lived.

This book falls along that continuum. I appreciated the way in which the appreciation of others' competencies ran through the book. I've been in that place where a brother-in-law knows enough to get me out of a repair jam and I don't think I handled it with quite the humor or the appreciation that Perry did (although I'm thinking that there will be lots of cookies & pies the next time my in-laws come down) and I loved the way in which he told about his garden and his community and brought a generous grace to those around him.

And, you have to love a book that causes you to read long stretches to your husband in the evening. Peaceful snickers and woofling puppies seem the apotheosis of that pressboard and paint book, even if we're living in suburbs and the sleekest critter around is the dog.

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