The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Published by Harper Books, an imprint of Harper Collins
Josh Kilmer-Purcell, a former drag queen, and his partner Brent, the Dr. Brent of Martha Stewart fame, have a yearly apple-picking tradition. They like to escape New York City, getting far enough away that even the crowds of New Yorkers escaping to the country do not touch their weekend. On one such weekend, Josh and Brent discovered a small town upstate that looked dead but was full of wonderfully friendly people. During their reluctant trip back to the city, they stumbled upon a gorgeous old mansion on a farm.
Here’s another one for the LOVED pile! Not only did I finish “The Bucolic Plague” in a single day, I did so after sitting down with it at 7:30. I read it in a single sitting, so captivated by Kilmer-Purcell, both his story and his writing, that I didn’t put it down again until I finished sometime around midnight, and long after I had planned to go to bed. Okay, that’s not entirely true, I did have to get up to get a drink and stretch my legs once or twice, but I was always drawn immediately back to the book, to soak in life at The Beekman.
“The Bucolic Plague” had everything I look for in a memoir. First of all, there was an interesting story to be told. Two men rushing back and forth from their high-powered Manhattan jobs to their idyllic farm, trying desperately to make it work well enough that they can keep it, but with plenty of conflict and roadblocks along the way – what’s not to love? In addition, Kilmer-Purcell was both funny and honest. He didn’t shy away from talking about trying to market himself and his farm to keep it going. With their new show out, “The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” that could easily have been something that he tried to downplay, but then “The Bucolic Plague” wouldn’t have had the ring of both desperation and truth that it did. I also appreciated that he was able to look relatively objectively at his and Brett’s problems without ever seeming like he was being overly harsh on his partner. He acknowledged that they were both to blame for some of the tension between them and was remarkably even-handed in his analysis.
The chicken report: Chickens weren’t huge stars in “The Bucolic Plague,” but when they did appear, their presence stole the show. One of my favorite scenes in the entire book was the first night that Josh and Brent spent at The Beekman, when they decided to make their first meal in the house with their chickens’ eggs. Unfortunately, nobody had been collecting the eggs and they had no guarantees about how fresh any of the eggs were. And, well, you can imagine the rest (or buy the book and read it for yourself).
I absolutely adored this book, and I think that you will too. I highly recommend it.
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