Josh Kilmer-Purcell - The Bucolic Plague: From Drag Queen to Goat Farmer an Unconventional Memoir

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The Bucolic Plague: For Once, a Memoir That Feels Real

Jul 23, 2010
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:at times witty, at other times glaringly brilliant. couldn't put it down

Cons:none. I hope there's a sequel.

The Bottom Line: The Bottom Line wishes more writers were as blatantly honest and self-effacing as Kilmer-Purcell.

After my eye-rolling at the dramatic stream-of-consciousness that was Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and my inability to believe the events in Jeanette Walls' The Glass Castle, I gave up on reading memoirs for quite a while. However, when a blurb on a blog for an upcoming book crossed my screen describing a gay couple (one of whom is a former drag queen) moving to the country and becoming gentlemen farmers, I was unable to keep myself from adding the book to my ever-growing list of to-be-reads.

::: Who They Are and How They Got There :::

Josh Kilmer-Purcell is an author and ad executive in New York City. His partner, Brent Ridge, is an executive at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. At least, this is what they are at the beginning of Kilmer-Purcell's memoir. On a weekend apple-picking trip away from the City, they stumble upon the quaint town of Sharon Springs, and a mansion known as the Beekman Mansion.

In a fit of impulsivity, the two buy the mansion and its associated farm, dreaming of a life away from the stresses of city life, and returning to nature. Kilmer-Purcell's memoir The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers (and its epilogue) cover three years of the couple being weekend farmers, including the stresses associated with trying to make life perfect.

::: Witty, Poignant, and Downright Charismatic :::

At whatever point I added The Bucolic Plague to my Amazon wishlist, I also signed myself up for the newsletter put out by the couple as part of their business, Beekman 1802. I'll admit that I've done little other than skim and delete the emails, as I felt disconnected without reading the book.

I can tell you that I'll be waiting with baited breath for the next email missive. Reading The Bucolic Plague marks the first time I've ever read a memoir where I found myself skipping to the end to find out if it had a happy ending; I was that involved with the people in the book.

Kilmer-Purcell begins the book in 2006, when things were still fairly okay with the economy. It's hard to imagine having the money to buy a million-dollar mansion as a second home in today's economy, and the market crash and subsequent layoffs are addressed (and factor in) in the time frame the memoir covers. With Ridge having worked closely with Martha Stewart, you don't expect the book to be as warts-and-all as it is, but it reminds a bit of the memoirs of Madeleine L'Engle, who also moved to the country and found the transition jarring.

Some readers may go into reading this memoir already knowing about the show on Planet Green (a channel my cable company doesn't carry), but for the rest, I won't spoil the book's ending. I can tell you that The Bucolic Plague is well worth the read, and I'll be looking for Kilmer-Purcell's previous memoir about his drag days as soon as I get back to the library.

Recommend this product? Yes

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