Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir

I had this book in my library and, without reading it myself, lent it to a family member to help her through a difficult surgery. She never returned it, but when I read Dawn Rennert’s review of her pilgrimage to Sharon Springs on her blog called She is Too Fond of Books, I went to get it back that very day. I'm so glad I did. It would have been perfect for the sick family member, had she read it, but she didn't and I did. It was perfect for me, too. What a wonderful, funny, painful, knowing memoir of a pair of busy city executives finding a “weekend retreat” in upstate New York (Sharon Springs) that turns into a full-time job and lifestyle change. Not ordinary executives, not an ordinary town…and not an ordinary house.

By now, many of you will have heard already of the Beekman Boys on Planet Green’s Reality TV show, but I hadn’t until now. The truth is that this memoir is so hilarious and yet so real, in a you-and-me-and-a-drag-queen sort of way, that I couldn’t put the darn thing down. It is a lovely fairy tale about the wonders of country living. I’ve been guilty of dreams of domestic bliss and the homemade life more than once myself, but these guys do it bigger and better than I would or could. It’s no wonder the town embraced them and their 88 goats.

Without a doubt, highlights of the story include a Martha Stewart Peony Party at her homestead near New York City, the fare reduction ad campaign that was created in less than five minutes, and the first time a crew went to the Beekman house to shoot a reality show. Now there really is a TV show, but it was not at all obvious that this would be the case when the idea was first explored:
"At some point during the morning, I realized that the most exciting moment of our potential reality show would be the copyright notice in the credits. To compensate, I came to the conclusion that if I ran everywhere—physically moved my body faster—the film might seem more engaging. I galloped out the end of the drive to get the mail. I trotted to the garage to grab a trowel…For even more” sizzle,” instead of simply leading the goats out to graze as we usually did, I raced out in front of them, hollering an improvisational goat call that made me sound like a yodeling hillbilly. I turned back toward the barn and saw that the goats had stayed back, huddled together in fear in the barn doorway. They obviously preferred to skip dinner rather than get too close to the retarded scarecrow suffering a grand mal seizure.”

Do yourselves a favor and don’t wait for major surgery to take the chance to read this book. It’s funny, heartwarming, recognizable, and real. You’ll be glad there are folks like this around, and you’ll wish they lived nearby. And check out their website.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

1 comment:

  1. What a fun, quirky, and yet - poignant and relevant - memoir! Like you, I didn't know about the "Beekman Boys" and their tv show (and "lifestyle brand" of products) until after I read the book. I'm so glad I was able to follow the journey with them, discovering the outcome as they did.

    Thanks so much for linking to my post about our trip to Sharon Springs. It was a fabulous weekend! Although Josh and Brent weren't in town, my friends and I loved spending time at the American Inn (well-deserving of its award-winning status for food and lodging) and meeting so many of the local characters that we "met" in the memoir.