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