The Storyteller

Michael Perry

A Rural Chippewa Vallian Whose Writing Sheds Light
on the Humor and Heart of Northwoods People

Michael Perry is a man of many talents, but the humorist, musician, and volunteer firefighter is perhaps best known for his written work, which at its core chronicles his admiration for life in the Northwoods. In 2002 (this October will mark the 10th anniversary), the then-New Auburnite published his breakout hit, Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time.

Now coming out of Fall Creek, Perry’s comedic anecdotes in both non-fiction books and stage performances are arguably popular for capturing slices of life from the ho-hum small-town Midwest (including his own, as a husband, father, and farmer). But instead of coming off as caricatures to ridicule, the subjects in his writing are genuine, real-life folks. Because that’s how Perry sees them.

In turn, what the Chippewa Valley got out of the likes of Population 485, Truck: A Love Story, and Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, & Parenting isn’t just an acclaimed author making outside readers wonder what other literature is coming out of this region, but he’s also shed some cultural light on our corner of the globe.

At the most, maybe it makes someone consider visiting or even relocating here, but at the least it, broadens the cultural view of “Northwoods Sconnies” as something more than flannel-wearing hicks. “It’s fun to talk about Wisconsin and cheese curds and deer hunting. And that really is certainly where I come from,” Perry said. “But we’re able to share that with the world and expand on it, and say, ‘Yes, cheese curds, but also Barry Lynn teaching modern dance in Rusk County.’”

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