Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Bucolic Plague - Josh Kilmer-Purcell (Audio)

So probably you all know I have a few fantasies on file whenever I am tired of the grind.  Fantasies are good for you!  As long as you keep your expectations in check, they are fun to swizzle around in your brain.  One of my more frequent fantasies revolves around having chickens, and milkable animals so I can make cheese, and looking out over rolling green hills.  (I know my mom is rolling her eyes, because as a young adult I couldn't move to the city quick enough.)  I have seen the movies "Funny Farm" and "Baby Boom" and "Under the Tuscan Sun" at least 100 times.  I can't grow a carrot but, you know...details.  

Anyway, I knew when I first read the reviews of this book, that it would feed right into the whole scene.  I was told the audio was a must, and my library didn't have it, so it was only when Kathy sent it to me that the day was saved.  My fantasy-ante has just been upped!

Synopsis:  Josh and his partner Brent are high-octane New York City dwellers...Josh works for a posh ad agency and Brent works for Martha Stewart.  But occasionally they like to get away to the country to pick apples and enjoy the peace and quiet.  One weekend, they stumble into a quirky little town, not on the map, and find a gorgeous farm and historical mansion for sale.  Impulsively, they take the plunge.  They would be weekend gentlemen farmers!  It would be fun!  They would have a vegetable garden and sip their homemade apple cider by the fire!

Turns out, it was a little more work than they had ever imagined.  With visions of Martha Stewart perfection, they chased dreams of the idyllic Thanksgiving, garden parties for their newly-acquired local friends, making goat milk soap for friends and family for Christmas, cutting down a beautiful giant Christmas tree to be trimmed, and making their own garland.  Instead, they got ghosts, drunk turkeys, tomato-canning all-nighters, human remains in the garden, dead birds in their cherry trees, zombie flies taking over the house, and lots and lots of goats courtesy of their caretaker Farmer John.  Eventually, both Josh and Brent became victims of the economic downturn and lost their jobs, and began to watch their relationship deteriorate as a result.  

    
But these two were in the business of marketing and image, and they were ultimately devoted to one another, so they dug deep and created the brand of "Beekman 1802" (named after the man who originally built the mansion), complete with goat milk soap, recipes, how-to videos, gardening tips, and even pictures of their animals...basically the fuel to ignite the smoldering self-reinvention fantasy in all of us.  Josh's account of their journey is a poignant, humorous, and insightful look at chasing your dream, coping with middle-age, love...and cleaning up goat poo.

My thoughts:  Well, as you can see, I wrote a little more than I normally do on my reviews.  I do try to keep it concise so you don't shut down half-way.  But sort of like anything Joshilyn Jackson or Tana French, this required more heart and soul.  I LOVED this book.  And not just because Josh and Brent were living the life that is supposed to be mine (ha).

I have lived on a farm, so I do know that the works never ends.  And I liked that Josh laid out the realities of it all.  This was supposed to be their weekend retreat, and sometimes all they did was scoop up goat dung, till their garden or can vegetables.   Old houses do have zombie flies (or in my parents' case, zombie ladybugs) that appear by the thousands no matter how many times you vacuum them up.  Josh made me chortle out loud throughout the entire book.  Josh and Brent's attitude was endearingly self-effacing and honest about their bumbling adventures.

I also loved (for lack of a better phrase) the gay twist on the story.  I loved the fact that they were warmly accepted into this small town (where more than a few gay couples were in the center of the social hub).  I adored their unflagging commitment to each other.  They are adorable.  There were not-so-adorable moments in the story, however, like Josh butchering his own turkey for Thanksgiving.  One that he had raised.  That whole scene devastated me.  I think I'd have to outsource that job.  

Based on some poking around I did on their website, it appears that these two have not only reinvented themselves, but their small town of Sharon Springs.  They have numerous festivals, they have included the locals to help make Beekman 1802 a success, and hoards of people now flock there to see their slice of heaven.  Kathy and I swear one day we are going to do a road trip.  I'm just waiting on Josh or Brent to see this review and invite me.

A few words about the audio production:  The narrator for this book is Johnny Heller, who is new to me but based on his resume, seems to know his way around the audio world.  He perfectly portrayed Josh's "voice" so much that I could easily imagine that it WAS Josh speaking.  It was a pleasant listening experience.

Audiobook length:  8 hours and 7 minutes (320 pages)

5 out of 5 stars



20 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I'm glad I was able to fuel your fantasy! When Josh and/or Brent invite you up, I wanna go too! I loved this book, too - it didn't make me want to farm but it did make me want to buy some of their soap! lol

Julie P. said...

This is exactly the type of story I need to listen to while running. I'm listening to a big old historical fiction one right now and I find that my mind wanders.

Beth F said...

I've been wanting to read or listen to this one for a long time. I didn't grow up on a farm but I did grow up in farming country ... no delusions on my part about the work.

Trisha said...

The farmer fantasy is one I've never had. I don't even have a garden - that's why I, of course, went and married a farmer. Crazy.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm afraid to read this. I would feel too much like throwing everything away and trying to live that life too!

joshkp said...

Considered this your engraved invitation to come visit Sharon Springs. Without the actual engraving part.

Thanks for the nice comments. xojkp

Zibilee said...

I have been hearing about this book for so long, and I am dying to read it. I also think life on a farm would be grand, but hard work. I can imagine this totally rocked your world with all that talk about goats. I know how bad you want to make goat milk cheese one day. It sounds wonderful and really different than most of the books I read. Perfect review, by the way!

Meg @ write meg! said...

I'm with you -- and you know I've been all about the farming daydreams lately! I'm definitely interested in this one and will have to see if I can track down an audio copy, too!

Anita said...

I have no farm girl fantasies, but this sounds like a really great listen.

Elisabeth said...

I also really enjoyed this book! Did you know that right now Josh and Brent are competing on The Amazing Race! They are the goat farmers! It is on Monday nights.

JoAnn said...

Oh, man, I need to listen to this!! It's been on my wish list forever and is even local (sort of). Be sure to let me know when you and Kathy decide to visit... I'm less then two hours away.

Jackie Bailey said...

I'm always dreaming about moving to the country and becoming self-sufficient, so this book sounds like the sort of thing I'd love. I haven't heard about it before, but I'll keep an eye out for it now.

Marie said...

I bet this was fun. I read a previous book of his, about a particularly flamboyant old boyfriend of his, alternately funny and sad. I should look this up.

Jenners said...

This was a hoot! And if you and Kathy take that trip, pick me up on the way.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I've been wanting to read this one for a while :) I do have farm-girl fantasies...I want chickens so badly. I think I could convince my German Shepherd not to eat them, couldn't I? Oy.

Tasha B. said...

Whenever people talk about their "If I only lived/worked" fantasies, I think of Odd Thomas going to the tire store and fantasizing about selling tires.

Ti said...

I HAVE to get this one.
I have fantasies too. I want to move to wine country, in Italy though and sit on my balcony while watching the grapes turn ripe. Then I want to eat all the pasta I can (not gluten free either because in my fantasy I do not have Celiac) and then I want to drink all that wine. Yeah.

softdrink said...

I plowed through this on the plane ride home from BEA a few years ago...I loved it. I still have his other book sitting on my shelf...the one where he talks about his life as a drag queen.
And I'd love to live on a farm. As long as there was someone else to do all of the work!

Melissa said...

So I'm finally getting caught up on reviews and I saw the title and cover for this one and started scrolling past...until I saw your 5 at the bottom! Now I have to find a copy of this on audio too. Not that I need any more farming than we already have though...

Heather said...

visiting here via Lakeside Musing. while this book doesn't work for me, I have sent the link to two friends who I see reflected in these two men. Thanks.