Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace (Paperback)
What can we learn about life, love, and artillery from an eighty-two-year-old man whose favorite hobby is firing his homemade cannons? Visit by visit--often with his young daughters in tow--author Michael Perry is about to find out.
Toiling in a shop Perry describes as "an antique store stocked by Rube Goldberg, curated by Hunter Thompson, and rearranged by a small earthquake," Tom Hartwig makes gag shovel handles, parts for quarter-million-dollar farm equipment, and--now and then--batches of potentially "extralegal" explosives. As he approaches his sixtieth wedding anniversary with his wife, Arlene, Tom, famous for driving a team of oxen in local parades, has an endless reservoir of stories dating back to days of his prize Model A, and an anti-authoritarian streak refreshed daily by the four-lane interstate that was shoved through his front yard in 1965 and now dumps over 8 million vehicles past his kitchen window every year. And yet Visiting Tom is dominated by the elderly man's equanimity and ultimately--when he and Perry converse over the kitchen table as husbands and as the fathers of daughters--unvarnished tenderness.