Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry

The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry

On Christmas Eve in the small town of Swivel, Wisconsin, Harley Jackson helps his milk cow, Tina Turner, bring her calf into the world.  After one look at the calf Harley knows he’s got trouble.  Right there, in black on the calf’s white flank, is the image of Jesus Christ.  He tries his best to hide the distinguishing mark under Kiwi shoe polish, but as with most big secrets this one gets out.  Of the barn.  Literally.  Yep, Harley is right.  That calf is Trouble.

What would happen if a cow like this, a Jesus Cow, actually came into being?  Obviously with social media there would be people lined up to see it and they would want pictures with it, and would want to get souvenirs of it imprinted on anything flat.  Harley, a nice guy wanting to lead a simple existence, is suddenly in the spotlight and a millionaire (maybe more) since an international publicity firm has taken over the promotion of the Jesus Cow brand.  The small town infrastructure and pride is tested by all the outsiders and success, but not more than Harley is tested.  Will he survive being the owner of the Jesus Cow?  Will he ever find faith?

Harley is an everyman.  A man who sees a bull with a birthmark not a cow touched by the divine.  Seeing how he, and the small town folks around him, deal with having their town on the map is what makes this book so much fun.  There are seriously philosophical questions pondered in the book, but it is never ponderous.  I especially loved his best friend Billy of the amazing vocabulary and insight; a veteran content with things as they are, but realizing that they have a cash cow on their hands that will keep his legion of cats in milk for a long time to come.

This is one to listen to.  The author reads his book and he’s got the Scandihoovian dialect down pat which just makes the giggles that much better.