The Jesus Cow

Humorist Michael Perry (Coop) makes a foray into fiction with The Jesus Cow, a novel about a small town transformed in profound and hilarious ways by a bull calf born in a barn on Christmas Eve.

Perry sets the story in Swivel, Wis.--population exaggerated at 562--only visible from the interstate by a long-stemmed, halogen-lit Kwik Pump gasoline sign whose "logo glows against the sky." He focuses on resident Harley Jackson, who lives in the house where he grew up, on 15 acres of deteriorating farmland. When his prized cow, Tina Turner, delivers a bull calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ on its black-and-white patchwork hide, Harley, a born-again believer, doesn't drop to his knees. Instead, he says, "Well, that's trouble."

Whether the calf was marked by God or not, Harley doesn't want anything to disturb his manageable, unassuming life, but when the Jesus calf escapes from the barn, the animal's image goes viral. Harley's upper Midwest farm soon becomes an international spiritual destination--a circus that sends the town residents into a tizzy.

As in Truck: A Love Story and Visiting Tom, Perry once again delivers his own brand of outlandishness through rich, endearing characterizations of quirky small-town folks, and how their zany foibles and flaws mask underlying disappointments, secrets and longings. By deploying humor in depicting the often painful truths and absurdities of life, Perry successfully makes much larger statements about society and the human condition. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

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