The Thick of Thin: Memoirs of a Working-Class Writer
This is a remarkable memoir, two memoirs really. One chronicles Larry Smith’s
odyssey from son of a mill town worker to accomplished teacher, writer, publisher. We
see a young man take his first uncertain steps from a way of life that had defined his
family for generations. As he and wife Ann move from their beloved Ohio Valley, we
also see the values of hard work, honesty to self, acceptance of others, and others
instilled from his parents impelling his life forward from college graduate to high
school teacher to college professor. Throughout, love of family remains at the center of
his life. The other memoir is his creative odyssey. Shared the evolution of his creative
self as reflected in selections from his poetry, fiction, and biography. It brings him–
and us–to a precipice of understanding that is deep and profound, a holistic self
grounded in the world of nature and others. --Kurt Landefeld, author of
Jack's Memoir
Larry Smith  is a native Midwesterner, born and raised in a working-class family
in the industrial Ohio River Valley in the town of Mingo Junction, Ohio. In 1965 he
graduated from Muskingum College in Ohio and married a hometown girl, Ann
Zaben. He worked in the steel mills that summer before moving to Euclid, Ohio
where he taught high school and Ann began working as a nurse. He earned degrees
at Kent State University (M.A. and Ph.D), and was there when the riots and
shootings of students occurred. In 1970-1971 he and Ann and daughter Laura
moved to Huron, Ohio where he began teaching at Firelands College of Bowling
Green State University. He is the author of eight books of poetry, a book of
memoirs, six books of fiction, two literary biographies of authors Lawrence
Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Patchen, and a photo history of his hometown Mingo
Junction. Two of his film scripts on authors James Wright and Kenneth Patchen
have been made into films with Tom Koba and shown on PBS.As a professor of
English and humanities at Firelands College (1970-2010) he has taught writing
and literature and served as director of the Firelands Writing Center, a cooperative
of writers.
Excerpt: I came into this world at 2 am on February 11th, my mother’s birthday and a day before my father’s. Mom,
Jean Rae Putnam, was 20 years old, and Dad, Delbert Ross Smith, a day away from 22. In a week I would be home in
Mingo Junction, where I might be lying in a white bassinet looking up at a woman in her flowered robe smiling down at
me, perhaps singing, “Beautiful Brown Eyes,” or she might be handing me into the strong hands of a man in a blue mill
shirt. Perhaps a small boy, Davey, with a long face would be watching all of this, maybe waiting to pinch me when no
one watches. Though the weather would be cold with snow blowing along the row of brick apartments, she might bundle
me up, then dash the few feet over to an adjoining apartment where a young woman also in a bright robe would
welcome her in. There another baby fairer than I (my lifelong friend Joy) would lie bundled on the couch. The woman,
Mildred, would hug my mother and laugh, “Well, Jeanie, we did it. By God, what a trip it’s been. Both would laugh
waking us babies, and we would answer them with cries to be fed. It was during those sepia years of Roosevelt and war
Paperback..236 pgs. $18
Hardcover  236 pgs. $25