The Bucolic Plague
Published by HarperCollins
A couple of times a year I seem to find myself reading a book about city people who move to a farm. And then I proceed to tell you all about the time my parents did something similar back in the 1970s and how I had to live in a barn and use an outhouse when I was 3 and that’s why I hate camping but love reading books about other people who do something similar.
Looks like it’s that time of year again.
Gayle of Everyday I Write the Book (and Discovery, whose Planet Green launches a new show on June 16th, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, which continues the saga introduced in this book) was generously giving away copies of this book at the Book Blogger Convention and after 1) I saw that it was about two guys who want to escape New York to live on a farm and 2) Billy saw that there were goats on the cover I pretty much stalked Gayle and wheedled myself a copy.
Boy, am I glad I gave into my stalker tendencies.
I read this book on the plane ride home from New York. Yes, the whole thing. It provided a much needed distraction from the screaming children that surrounded me…I was able to tune out all but the excruciatingly high-pitched screeches. The book was very engaging, but there are just some things that can’t be blocked out, no matter how hard I read. Anyways. I adored the author’s style. He’s a little chatty, and a little snarky, and totally upfront about the havoc the farm caused in his relationship. And he sneaks in references to his previous life as a drag queen. It’s both a fun read, and a book that gets a little reflective about the author’s relationship towards the end. And there are goats. I loved it all.
As I just mentioned, Josh Kilmer-Purcell is a former drag queen (and I so want to read his first memoir, I Am Not Myself These Days) turned advertising exec who lives in Manhattan with his boyfriend Dr. Brent, who works for Martha Stewart Living. One weekend, on an apple picking jaunt in the country, they come across a beautifully restored mansion on a farm. And it’s for sale. They give into the lure of the country, and then proceed to spend the next couple of years driving themselves crazy as they try to establish the perfect weekend life on the farm. Emphasis on perfect. Josh and Brent discover they have different ideas on what their farm should be, creating stress and a far from relaxing life in the country.
The book hooked me before I even got to page 1, with the Author’s Caution:
The author reminds you that there are plenty of other memoirs out there written by courageous souls who have broken with their past, poetically leaving behind such things as:
1. Drugs and/or Drinking
2. Career Ennui
3. Bad Relationships
…and have successfully achieved goals such as:
1. Creative Fulfillment
2. The Simple Life
3. Jesus’s Approval
The author notes that those memoirs are generally full of more shit than a barn at the end of a long winter.
I will confess to initially being a little put-off by all the mentions of Martha Stewart, as I’ve never been a fan. But it all comes together in the end, as Josh realizes he and Brent have different world views. Josh is Oprah, Brent is Martha…and it totally makes sense in the book. Also, Martha doesn’t exactly come out of it all smelling like roses.
And now a few words from Billy, who has been staring at me over the computer screen and impatiently tapping his hoof:
Billy wanted to write this review so bad, but Softdrink has been hogging the computer (no offense to the pigs) all morning. Anyhoosie. Billy really liked this book. Especially the cover, with the cute kids. But Billy would have liked to have read more about Farmer John’s goats. They sound like neat kids. However, Billy discovered that Josh talks about what he’s learned from goats on his blog. So it’s all good. Billy gives this one two hooves up. Softdrink says she does, too. Only in her case, it’s thumbs…Softdrink would look pretty silly with hooves.