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 Perrin's second ``final'' collection of bucolic essays (some original, the majority reprinted from Smithsonian, Yankee, etc.) appears eight years after his supposedly ultimate compilation (Third Person Rural, 1983)--and it's another convincing bit of rustic Americana. Healthy compost and stylish composition seem to promote a nice symbiosis in the case of Vermont farmer and Dartmouth professor Perrin, as they did in the case of the master, E.B. White. The comparison to White is, perforce, inevitable. But it's apt, and neither author suffers for it. Perrin is one English teacher who minds his peas and ewes with evident joy. Sometimes frisky (there's a tale of a radio-playing cow), occasionally elegiac (as on the changing New England terrain), often outraged (on the death of the small farm or the effects of acid rain), Perrin always has a point of view. Does he present the obligatory, syrupy Vermont Christmas piece? You bet. Does he ask a lot of rhetorical questions? Maybe. And maybe it's all too much for those poor souls not used to wrestling rocks or the smell of damp hay or the taste of state-fair pancakes, but it's all natural, folks. With lifelike plastic flowers, he admits, ``you can have the results of a glowing garden, but you can't have the process of getting there. Process is another name for life itself.'' That's good guidance for readers who may not be used to places without pavement, where all the birds are not pigeons. The text is complemented by a half-dozen woodcuts by Michael McCurdy. A grade-A-to-choice gathering, leaving the reader ready to receive more such terminal discourses from farmer Perrin as he tends his happy 90 acres.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-87923-914-X
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Godine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1991


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