Roughneck Grace: Farmer Yoga, Creeping Codgerism, Apple Golf and Other Brief Essays from On and Off the Back Forty

By Michael Perry

Paperback: $18.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-812-6

172 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 E-book edition available


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Chosen the 5th Book of Christmas 2016!
(View video here)

New York Times bestselling author and humorist Michael Perry returns with a new collection of bite-sized essays from his Sunday Wisconsin State Journal column, "Roughneck Grace." Perry's perspectives on everything from cleaning the chicken coop to sharing a New York City elevator with supermodels will have you snorting with laughter on one page, blinking back tears on the next, and -- no matter your zip code -- nodding in recognition throughout.

This book was selected as a Midwest Connections Pick for October!

Michael Perry is also the author of the Wisconsin Historical Society Press book From the Top: Brief Transmissions from Tent Show Radio and the award-winning. To learn more about Michael Perry's books and live recordings, visit


Michael Perry is a newspaper columnist and the author of numerous books including the Wisconsin Historical Society Press's From the Top: Brief Transmissions from Tent Show Radio as well Population: 485 and the New York Times bestseller Visiting Tom. His "Roughneck Grace" column has been running in the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal for nearly three years. His live humor recordings include Never Stand behind a Sneezing Cow and The Coldhopper Monologues. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his wife and daughters and is privileged to serve as a first responder with the local fire department.
Listen in as Michael Perry is interviewed about his Roughneck Grace essays by Wisconsin Public Radio host Joy Cardin (October 2016)
Michael Perry is, of course, a treasure. His memoirs, essays, and now fiction ("The Jesus Cow")too, all use his hard-earned perceptiveness and gift for colorful clarity in chronicling modern midwestern life, with its messes and chaos, yes, but its quiet reflections as well. "Roughneck Grace" collects his newspaper columns of the same name - each a little nugget of thoughtfulness, humor, and the occasional stumble into wisdom. Mike mines his own incompetence (which runs "rich, wide, and deep" according to one column), but most often you'll be reminded that you'd be lucky to have such a decent fellow as your neighbor or friend, and that Grace, received or given is what matters most." (John Christensen, Arcadia Books, Spring Green,WI)

[Perry's] essays inspire a lot of collective nodding like the first time he saw the Packers on a flat-screen and also many laughs. You can't help but chuckle when he describes a yoga studio that caters to farmers or misses a deer while hunting because hes reading Poets & Writers. "Writing is a privilege," Perry says, and he uses his column "as a mirror to see how Im measuring up." Our only grievance: These two-page stories will leave you wanting more. (Kristine Hansen, Milwaukee Magazine, Oct. 19, 2016)

"The pieces chosen for his new essay collection,Roughneck Grace: Farmer Yoga, Creeping Codgerism, Apple Golf and Other Brief Essays from On and Off the Back Forty(Wisconsin Historical Society Press), serve as a compelling reminder of Perry's subtle wit, charm and predilection for nature, family and friends. That may sound a bit sappy, but that's okay. In a world in which 140 characters count as "writing," Perry's thoughtful and sensitive prose provides the authentic perspective of a 50-something man with one steel-toed boot planted firmly in nostalgia and the other in an ever-changing present.(Michael Popke, Isthmus, Oct. 6, 2016)

Excerpts from "Roughneck Grace"

  • "The title of this collection ["Roughneck Grace"] arose from the subtitle of "Visiting Tom," a book I wrote about my neighbors Tom and Arlene ... I hoped pairing those two words might convey the idea of grace -- given and received -- beyond the purview of priests or perfection. That prefect things emanate from imperfect people. Based on my own character, I better hope so, from both directions." (From the Introduction)

  • "In time one learns to reserve the high horse for only very special occasions involving apple-picking, and even then it's likely best left in the stable." (From "Appreciation")

  • "Sleeping is my single favorite hunting activity and terribly underrated as a means of attracting wildlife." (From "Home")

  • "Recently a real, live yogi asked my wife and me for help renaming his yoga studio. Asking a guy like me to rename your yoga studio is the rough equivalent of asking a room full of teenaged boys to come up with an advertising slogan for baked beans, but I agreed to do the best I could, which is to say we lowered the bar immediately." (From "Creeping Codgerism")