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Monday, Aug. 20, 2012

Stories of Life and Love in 'Visiting Tom'

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Meet Tom Hartwig, an 80-something farmer in small-town Wisconsin whose favorite hobby is firing his homemade cannons. Hartwig is at the center of Michael Perry's touching memoir, Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace. In Visiting Tom, a story that melds Perry's unique humor with notes of Garrison Keillor and Bill Bryson, the elderly man's tenderness and character jump off the page as he shares his thoughts on life and love.

Hartwig, a neighbor of the author, has spent his entire life underneath one roof—a roof that was situated in the middle of a rural landscape until a four-lane highway plowed its way across his front yard in 1965. Married for 60 years, Hartwig is the keeper of a full and happy life. He shares his stories with Perry with compassion and quiet intelligence.

Perry is the author of the best-selling memoirs Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, Truck: A Love Story and Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting, as well as the essay collection Off Main Street. Perry's short stories have appeared in Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Outside, Backpacker, Men's Health and other publications. Perry lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife and two daughters. He will appear Aug. 23 at Books & Co. in Oconomowoc and Aug. 24 at Boswell Book Co. in Milwaukee. Both appearances are scheduled for 7 p.m.

Book Happening
: Literary Musicircus

John Cage was the composer who brought silence to center stage, but he was also a brilliant essayist who called for slipping the bonds of logic and transcending the artistic ego through the application of apparently random operations. And what could be more random than 50 people reading out loud from Cage's writings in public, allowing spectators to wander between voices? Readers can sign up at the event and hold forth with any Cage text they please. Take a chance with the “Literary Musicircus” 1-4 p.m. Aug. 26 at Riverside Park (if the sun shines) or the Urban Ecology Center (if it rains).

TAGS for Preview: Visiting Tom, Road to Roughneck Grace, Michael Perry, Tom Hartwig, memoir, Wisconsin, author, Garrison Keillor, Bill Bryson, Population 485, Truck, Love Story, Coop, Year of Poultry, parenting, Off Main Street, Books & Co., Oconomowoc, Boswell, Milwaukee, bookstore, event, reading

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