Another long titled book: Population: 485--Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time (by Michael Perry.) I finished this book shortly after arriving back in the chicken shaped country, but I've got a backlog of books to tell you about and now that I'm packing up again, I figured I'd better write about it before this one goes in a box.
Population: 485 is a series of essays written about the small town upper midwest experiences of a volunteer firefighter and EMT. Michael Perry, is a veteran of both and a writer to boot. Most of the essays center on calls he went on in his small hometown, and no, they're not about getting little old ladies' cats out of trees. They're more about people in real pain, not always but often, people vomiting, people dying, people surviving, and the camaraderie of firefighters and EMTs. Perry's stories are varied--sometimes they make you want to throw up, they are laugh out loud funny at times, and also heartbreakingly sad while always very human.
My main criticism of the book was Perry's emotional distance from just about everything. He's by no means cold or dishonest, but he also leaves up a clear wall between himself and the reader, a distinct lack of vulnerability. I know because I often do the same thing when I write. In general, a nice slice of nowheresville Americana, by far the most interesting part of my great country.