Monday, April 18, 2011

The Bucolic Plague

As its multiple subtitles suggest, The Bucolic Plague is both an unconventional memoir and the story of how two Manhattanites became gentleman farmers. Josh Kilmer-Purcell's previous memoir, I Am Not Myself These Days, was the first book I read with my book club about two years ago. That told the story of the author's early days in New York, when he worked at an ad agency by day, performed as a drag queen by night, got into a destructive relationship with a drug dealer, and developed a drinking problem.

While the subject matter of that book was by turns shocking, harrowing, and depressing, the author's voice remained completely funny throughout. I was excited to encounter it again in more pleasant circumstances- the story of how he and his partner buy an historic mansion and farm in upstate New York and try to turn it into a livelihood for themselves. Adding complications to their struggles in farming is the fact that Kilmer-Purcell's partner, Brent, is a doctor who works as the wellness expert for Martha Stewart Living. Martha's perfectionism and the threat of a weekend visit from her loom over the story as a constant, vaguely malevolent presence in their lives.

The final praise I can give this book is that it passed the Laugh Out Loud on the Subway Test (which, as it turns out, is actually less embarrassing than the Laugh Out Loud While Trying to Eat a Wrap in Your Company's Cafeteria Test).

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