Once upon a time - 'back in the day' - knowledge was handed down from generation to generation, self-reliance and thrift were considered virtues, and being a good neighbor was not an advertising slogan. In Visiting Tom, Michael Perry shows us that 'once upon a time' is the present, at least in the person of Tom Hartwig.
This is not a Luddite dream of returning to the past, throwing technology aside. It's about embracing the knowledge of the past and applying it to the present and future, of recognizing home-grown initiative and perseverance and moving them to their rightful places in the arsenal of American ideas.
While these may be regarded as old-fashioned, small Midwest town values, we could all do worse than to sit a spell with Tom and absorb some of the knowledge and expertise that were once an integral part of American culture. Visiting Tom gives us that opportunity.