Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Jesus Cow - Michael Perry

The Jesus Cow
Title: The Jesus Cow
Author: Michael Perry
Publication Date: 5/19/15
Pages: 304
How I Found It: TLC Book Tours
Date Completed: 5/11/15

Summary: Small town Wisconsin is turned upside down when unassuming farmer Harley Jackson discovers the face of Jesus on his newborn calf. 

What I Thought: I had the pleasure of being on the book tour for another of Michael Perry's books (Visiting Tom) back in 2013. I thoroughly enjoyed his work then and jumped at the chance to join the tour for his newest work and first novel, The Jesus Cow.

Perry's writing makes me almost nostalgic for the Midwest - almost. He glorifies the simple way of life in a way which makes it incredibly appealing. I have absolutely no desire to live on a farm or move back to a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business. Yet, Perry stirs the part of me that longs for simplicity, even if it comes in a different form than cow milking and town hall meetings. 

The plot moves quickly and the book is a fairly quick read. Perry keeps you entertained and laughing while also interjecting some quieter, more thoughtful moments. His characters are down to earth and full of life, even in their quietest, most intimate moments. Perry clearly recognizes the value of introversion; he dedicates the book "to the quiet ones." His protagonist fits that mold beautifully. Harley Jackson is a character with whom the reader can easily fall in love. No character is perfect and plenty of hijinks ensue as the townspeople look out for their own interests, those of the town, and those of their friends. 

While the stated focus of the book is this calf with the image of Jesus miraculously in its hide, the creature really proves itself more of a shibboleth for authenticity. The hoards of spectators who come seem largely false in their devotion and faith (see quote below). The townspeople themselves have their own issues of true identity. Secrets are kept, relationships are jeopardized, motives are nefarious - all beneath the surface of quiet, country life.

Quote I Loved: "Those people care more about fireworks, softball, and beer than a vision of the Christ they claim to follow. Take a poll and they'll rate themselves ninety-seven percent Christian. But how many of them actually show up for church on Sunday? And of those who do, how many of them really mean it? How many trouble themselves with any thought of why they're even in the pews? Jesus Cow? For most a' them, it ain't nothin' but Harley Jackson's weird damn steer."

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Possibly
Other Books By Michael Perry: Visiting Tom

A Reduced Review: Small town life is juxtaposed with viral entertainment and faith in this funny, thoughtful novel. 


  1. That sounds really interesting. The question of how to determine the sincerity of people who claim to be religious is something I wonder about.

    1. It certainly can be difficult. Ultimately, I think judging the validity of faith is a task for which we as humans are woeful unqualified, even though we like to try.

  2. Yes, books like this make me think I'd enjoy small town life when I know for a fact that I'd hate living there. LOL

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!