I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book will be published on May 3, 2016.
Dear County Agent Guy is a book comprised of a series of essays that originally appeared in newspapers across the Midwest. They were written by Jerry Nelson who operated a dairy farm with his wife in South Dakota. They raised two sons on this farm and these essays are antidotes of living the “rural life”.
I had high hopes for this book as I had just recently finished reading a laugh-out-loud funny memoir of a similar fashion set in England. Unfortunately, my hopes were soon dashed. Although the author does try to inject humor into each story, I feel it is humor that mostly would appeal to a white male audience aged 50 to 75.
The main thing that bothered me about this series of essays is how sexist they are. Now, I was raised on a grain farm in the 1960s, 1970s and early 80s in Saskatchewan. I understand that farmers think differently than “city folk”. I also grew up in a time, and a setting, where women were not acknowledged as equals. However, it is now 2016 – if some of these essays were written a number of years ago, shame on the publisher for not having the author update them.
The essays that I found most offensive were:
- The farmer had to call in a vet as he had a cow that had a displaced stomach. The essay was three pages long and he referred to the vet as the “lady vet” eleven times on three pages. I guess it was really important for his audience to know that he let a “lady vet” work on his animals.
- When they were expecting their first son, his wife insisted that he attend Lamaze class with her. The instructor was a woman that he described as being “one of those high-strung types”.
- And the worst one yet, he described going to a mall at Christmas time and seeing men there with their wives. In his opinion, men don’t want to be at the mall but were there to ensure that their wives don’t spent too much of their (the husband’s) hard-earned money. At one point, the farmer found “his manhood stripped away” because he found himself in an aisle filled with feminine products. I just wanted to reach through my I-pad and slap this idiot silly.
The author was going for a charming, folksy read. He got the folksy part right but certainly not the charming. One star.