LA CROSSE — After church service and brunch in a hotel ballroom, more than 150 attendees of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Women's Conference await the event's keynote speaker: writer Michael Perry.
It's 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning, chilly and drab outside. Perry, 44, wears a thick black-and-white checkered flannel over a plain brown T-shirt, faded jeans and gym shoes. Unbuttoned and untucked, the flannel almost looks like a suit jacket. Perry means no disrespect. This is how he dresses whether eating in a highbrow New York restaurant to meet his literary agent or feeding pigs at his small farm in rural Eau Claire.
The conference features a polite crowd, but a tough one — not the easiest group to entertain with book readings for 70 minutes.