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Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting    by Michael Perry order for
by Michael Perry
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Deb Kincaid

Michael Perry's newest memoir, Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting, is humorous, of course. Humor is Perry's trademark. I didn't make it past the first paragraph of Chapter 1! I laughed until tears streamed and breath came in gasps. But, tears flow for other reasons, too, and Perry doesn't shy away from sharing painful moments in his life, such as when his toddler nephew drowns. Like a caress, Perry lays down gentle words describing this profound loss of his brother's child, and the support that came for all, from all.

The title Coop refers to a chicken coop he sets out to build early in the year, but which doesn't come together completely until near the end of the year. Metaphorically, however, perhaps it refers to the sense of family, security, and coziness he strives for as he attempts to balance a writing career, time for wife and children, and a demanding but rewarding self-sufficient farm.

Perry shares with us the birth of little Jane, and bonding moments with given daughter, Amy (from his wife, Anneliese's first marriage). Pictures of unqualified love and admiration for his parents, of his respect for the religious faith he was brought up in - although he left it - and of the camaraderie between family and friends of all skill sets reveal a bountiful life. Establishing his pig pen (and, chicken coop), preparing the garden, and exposing his daughter to the privilege of farm life with all its beauty and gore, makes for some funny situations. One quality you won't find Perry exhibiting is doubt. He is a man who now knows what he wants, and it seems he's well on his way.

Coop is a funny, poignant, revealing portrait of a family living, loving, and working for a common purpose, rather than a common cause. Like his earlier book, Truck, this, too, is a love story.

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