Get ready for a thoroughly Perry-esque journey through philosopher Michel de Montaigne’s worldview, focusing on everything from sex and faith to aesthetics and death. For those who can’t get enough Montaigne, this volume is a welcome unique addition to the canon, through the lens of a roughneck Phillip Lopate. And if you’re a Perry fan already, you’ll not only love the book (it’s still laugh-out-loud funny), but you’ll be driven to dip into the original Essays. The truth is that the coasts have been making assumptions about who Michael Perry is since his very first book, Population 485, and it is probably time for them to rethink that after reading Montaigne in Barn Boots. But don’t expect Perry to let it go to his head—he’ll probably throw you off by mentioning his chicken coop and deer rifle.— Daniel Goldin
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.