Truck: A Love Story

Truck: A Love Story

by Michael Perry


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“A touching and very funny account. . . . Thoroughly engaging.”—New York Times

Hilarious and heartfelt, Truck: A Love Story is the tale of a man struggling to grow his own garden, fix his old pickup, and resurrect a love life permanently impaired by Neil Diamond. In the process, he sets his hair on fire, is attacked by wild turkeys, and proposes marriage to a woman in New Orleans. The result is a surprisingly tender testament to love.

“Part Bill Bryson, part Anne Lamott, with a skim of Larry the Cable Guy and Walt Whitman creeping around the edges.”—Lincoln Journal Star

“Perry takes each moment, peeling it, seasoning it with rich language, and then serving it to us piping hot and fresh.”—Chicago Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060571184
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/08/2016
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 206,869
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Michael Perry is a humorist, radio host, songwriter, and the New York Times bestselling author of several nonfiction books, including Visiting Tom and Population: 485, as well as a novel, The Jesus Cow. He lives in northern Wisconsin with his family and can be found online at

Read an Excerpt

Truck: A Love Story

By Michael Perry

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

Michael Perry

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060571179

Chapter One

I have the hots for Irma Harding. I wish I might couch my desire in more decorous terms, but when our gazes lock, the tickles in my tummy are frankly hormonal. My feelings are beyond ridiculous and destined to remain profoundly unrequited, but I draw a wisp of comfort from the fact that I am not squandering my libidinous yearnings on some flighty young hottie. Irma Harding radiates brightness and strength. She furthermore appears to have good posture. As a younger man, I would not have looked twice at Irma Harding.

As a younger man, I was a fool.

A man learns to tune his sensibilities. Consider the eyes. Your callow swain will be galvanized by coquetry and flash; your full-grown man is taken more by the nature of the gaze. A powerful woman's eyes are charged not by color but by intent. The strong woman does not look at you, the strong woman regards you. Irma's gaze is frank, with a crinkle of humor at the crease of each eye. She knows what she is looking for, and she knows what she is looking at. She has a plan, and should she encounter events for which she lacks a plan, she will change gears without fuss.

In the one picture I have of her, Irma is grinning. The grin is well short of goofy, but it does pull a little more to one side than the other. Her lips are full and gracious, although some might suggestshe back the lipstick down a shade. Her teeth are white and strong. The left upper incisor is the tiniest tad off plumb, but as with the faintly lopsided grin, the net effect is to make her more human, more desirable. Irma's grin is an implication, the implication being that while she would never tell a naughty joke, she would quite happily laugh at one.

Irma is the product of a time when a woman--even a strong woman--strove mostly and above all to please her husband. There is a danger here, a danger that you will form an image in your head of Irma as a servile drone. Look at those eyes again. They are the eyes of a woman who willingly mixes an after-work highball for hubby, but when she delivers the tumbler it is snugged in a napkin wrapped tight as a boot camp bedspread, and hubby will not underestimate the consequences pending should Irma later discover a water ring on the end table. He will droop home slack-tied and gray from the desk-job day, and she will meet him at the door crisp as a celery stick, her cheeks bright, her backbone straight. She will kiss him and take his briefcase, but he will be left to fetch his own slippers. When he settles in the big living room chair, he will turn an ear to the kitchen, from which will emanate the sounds of dinner under way. Not the clownish clatter of pans, or the careless jangle of cutlery, but the smooth whizzz of a blender, the staccato snickety-crunch of the carrot being sliced, the civilized tunk of the freezer door dropping shut on its seal. Lulled by these muted vibrations of efficiency, the husband will drift in the aura of provision and comfort, and his mind will ease.

But just as he is about to drowse, he hears the meat hit the pan, and he rouses to the idea that food is being cooked. He is reminded that he must daily--like any caveman--use his hands to put food in his face. He feels juices release, and his gut rumbles. And that's why Irma gets me bubbling. She may be cast as the stereotypical nuclear housewife, she may be complicit in the premise that a man is to be served, but when I lock on those eyes, I hear the sizzle in the skillet, and I know Irma knows: no matter how you tweak the parsley, eating remains a carnal activity.

Two winters back, a man knocked at my front door. I like to look folks over before I step into the open, so I paused a moment to study him from behind the glass. He had backed away from the porch and was standing on the short patch of sidewalk beside the driveway. My driveway could use some work. I'm no home improvement specialist, but I admit that if you have to mow your asphalt driveway there's work to be done. When I opened the door, the man turned to look at me but held his place on the walk. He had one eyeball smaller than the other.

"That truck for sale?" He squeezed the small eye shut when he talked. He was pointing at the old International Harvester pickup parked in my driveway. It's been there awhile. The tires have formed depressions in the asphalt and a sapling is growing through one wheel well. The sapling is six feet tall and thick as a buggy whip.

"Sorry, nope" I said.

"That got a six-cylinder in it?"

"Yep." I hoped he wouldn't get any more specific. My capacity for mechanical minutiae doesn't go much past lug nuts. One question, and he had nearly depleted the store of my knowledge regarding the engine. Embarrassing, for a guy to have such affection for an old truck and yet know so little about it.

"I need that thing." It was a declaration, not a request. He trained his one-eyed stare directly at the truck. "This buddy of mine's got a road grader, he put a six-cylinder International engine in it. Everybody told him you can't run a grader with that little damn engine." He turned his face back to me and clamped the eye a little tighter. "Hell, he can spin every wheel on that thing." He spit, poorly. A thin string of snoose trailed in the breeze, then snagged on the stubble of his chin. It was cold enough I expected the string to stiffen and hit the ground with a faint tinkle.


Excerpted from Truck: A Love Story
by Michael Perry
Copyright © 2006 by Michael Perry.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


My poor old truck. It sat in the sun and the snow for years and years. It rusted. It sank through the blacktop and grew a sapling out one fender.

I swore I'd get it fixed up and running again. We had put a lot of miles on years before, back when the truck was my only form of transportation. I don't know why the Department of Transportation even allowed me to rattle down the highway back then, but they did. Pity, maybe. The muffler was attached with a coat hanger, it'd rattle loose and the truck would all of a sudden roar louder. I'd have to put on gloves, crawl under there and jam it back on the header pipe.

So I kept saying I'd fix it up. Never did. Then one cold day an old-timer with one bad eye stopped in. He demanded I sell the truck to him. Said he needed the engine. I told him I was gonna fix it up. He could tell I had been saying that for years, and when he squinted up that one eye and looked at me, I could see he didn't believe me.

But he got under my skin some, that old guy. Enough so that I eventually yanked the truck free from the spot in the driveway where it had essentially become rooted, loaded it up on a flatbed, and hauled it off to the garage of my brother-in-law, where we began tearing the thing down in order to build it back up.

If you look real close there at the rust pattern on the door, you can see that some previous owner painted flames on the doors. This is like painting flames on a hippo. Good grief.

Anyway. What was supposed to be an 11-month project turned into of course a much longer project. By the time it was done I had lost my hair, obsessed over an imaginary woman, grown some excellent tomatoes and some pathetic leeks, failed to quell a backyard squirrel insurgency, and accidentally met a real woman at the library. You could say things unraveled, or perhaps they raveled.

Today my old truck is running. Mostly to the dump, and out to the farm where I was raised, and sometimes into the woods to drag out a deer. But here just recently, an independent film crew used it to portray a redneck taxi. I like to think my truck is like any movie star, ready to show herself to the public now that she has had a nip and a tuck and a fresh coat of paint.

Customer Reviews

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Truck: A Love Story 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
helpfulsnowman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great little book about a period in history in one man's life. Perry makes a change later in life from devoted bachelorhood to husband. Intersperced are little stories of other people around town, especially love stories and stories of the ways love can go bad. Short sections keep you clipping along.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
29. [Truck: A Love Story] by Michael Perry. I first saw this book months ago at a bookstore when I was on a mini vacation. I already bought about a dozen books by that point, so I wasn't going to easily convince my wife that I NEEDED even though it looked good, I filed it away for a future purchase or library checkout. I just took it out from the library last week. I'm glad I didn't bother trying to add it to my collection. It wasn't good or bad at the very beginning. Then, the obsessive listing/minute details of descriptions started to grate on my nerves and I would have abandoned the book (probably only the second time I've ever done so) if I wasn't already about half way though. Luckily, Perry finishes strongly. He tones down the descriptions and gets into the story as a whole again. He went from a writer I would never read again, to one I MIGHT try again.Perry offers a glimpse at small town life, something I usually enjoy reading. But he takes too much time describing in obsessive details things that don't move the story along and really are of no help to the reader in any other way. For example, do I need to read about the descriptions of 20 items and the locations around his brother-in-law's garage? Do I need to read about all the ingredients going into various recipes (without actual amounts or cooking times or real prep descriptions - even if I wanted to cook them, I couldn't)? He also jumps around sporadically throughout the book seemingly without rhyme or reason, making it hard to hold the literary thread and settle comfortably into what he's trying to say. I had high hopes, but it just didn't measure up.
bherner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although the transition from topic to topic was a little jarring, I LOVED this book.
jillstone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I own all of Michael Perry's books and they are all wonderful. Filled with tales of life in Wisconsin, his family, being a volunteer fireman, projects with his interesting brothers. Every one of these books is a great read!
rhonna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up because I like trucks, but it's really about so much more. Michael Perry talks about a year of his life in a small town in Wisconsin. He volunteers at the fire department, does some gardening, fixes up his truck, goes on some book tours, and meets a woman. He discusses the basic day-to-day events of life with humor and poignancy. He shares his struggles, joys, and insecurities in a way that really touched me. I've been recommending this book everywhere because there's something in it for everyone.
KatyBee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just thoroughly enjoyed this - Michael Perry is a very engaging writer with a nice sense of humor and a great eye for all the quirky details of everyday life.
LindaStone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A delightfully reflective book by a writer smitten with an old International Harvester truck, long immobile, and a longing to meet the right woman whom he can love, one who tolerates his foibles and loves him back. Classed as 629 in the car repair area of Dewey, this will be lost without personal recommendation. Michael Perry restores his truck over the year, meets the love of his life, grows a garden, carries out rescues as an EMT, reflects on cooking and recipes, and continues a most eccentric life style. A wonderful book which must be read carefully and closely.
strandbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This isn't a book I'd pick up on my own. I actually read it for a book club. I had some issues with it. First was the large amount of truck mechanical work portions, but since the book is named Truck I can't really hold that against it. However, I found it very disjointed. Perry jumps back and forth throughout his life. It is difficult to follow and to figure out why some of the past passages are relevant to the story. Also, he is constantly making references to old pop culture, writers, musicians, tv shows etc that I've never heard of. I don't think it was written with a large audience in mind or to transcend his generation.
dogearedpage on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this guy! Where was he when I was 39? But like he said his friend said..."He doesn't talk like that" or something to the point of that. I guess that is like the regular person. We are all eloquent given enough time to think about it. How rarely we get the chance to prove it. Thanks Michael. It was lovely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The-Badger More than 1 year ago
A pleasant read about the folkways and wisdom of rural Wisconsinites. Mr. Perry gives an entertaining and interesting depiction of discourse and living in everyday life Wisconsin. A book to soothe the mind and soul.
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cato More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. His stories of restoring the truck, his enjoyment of growing his garden and falling in love are as well told as they are touching and enjoyable. That along with the characters of his town make this a fun read.
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lovebooksKE More than 1 year ago
This was enjoyable until the last chapter which seemed contrived. I suppose it is difficult to stop writing about ones own life while that life continues. At any rate, the writer is excellent at bringing across the funny way men think (to us ladies) and created a fun book.
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Sweetpea107 More than 1 year ago
Gave it as a gift to my Dad who's a huge truck fan, and he loved the story.
Mid-NightReader More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book in a belief that I would be reading a humorous account of one man's effort to restore an old International pickup truck (a subject of personal interest) and comments on life in rural America. I was expecting something akin to Garrison Keillor. Michael Perry's style is nothing like that of Keillor. The humor is more dry and innocent, with less satire. I did not care for the fact that Perry meanders from theme to theme: his gardening, restoration of the title truck, observations of family and friends in his rural community, and a growing relationship with a woman. Parts of the story captured my attention, then Perry would wander into new territory and, in so doing, lose my attention. This was not a book that I found "impossible to put down". At times I wasn't even certain I would finish Truck, yet something in Perry's writing compelled me to finish the book. I felt as if I owed it to this candid and conversational author to finish the story he has written. Perhaps this says something positive of the writing. If I had really hated the book, or the author's artistry, I would not have felt such an obligation to struggle on, reading it to the end. I understand many other readers have enjoyed Truck, leading to Michael Perry's authorship of new books with similar rural themes. I will not be among those who will read Mr. Perry's next book. It isn't that he is a bad writer; I simply do not care for his style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago