Area author discusses new novel
Larry Smith takes ‘The Long River Home’ with fictional account of early family’s life
By TOM JACKSON firstname.lastname@example.org
HURON Larry Smith is the author of 12 books, a publisher who has put out more than 100 books, a filmmaker who has worked on documentaries about writers James Wright and Kenneth Patchen and a retired English professor who still teaches at BGSU Firelands. Now Smith can add another title to that list: family chronicler. His new novel, “The Long River Home,” is a fictionalized account of the Smith family in Ohio, with episodes spanning 1861 to 1949. It chronicles four generations of men in the McCall family and has been nominated for the Appalachian Book of the Year Award, given by the Appalachian Writers Association at Morehead State University in Kentucky. Smith himself appears in the novel as “Lee McCall.” When he read from the book earlier this month at Joseph-Beth Bookstore in Lyndhurst, an east Cleveland suburb, he showed up in a shirt identifying himself as “Fictional Character.” Smith, 66, sitting in a BGSU Firelands office decorated with portraits of writers such as Albert Camus and Walt Whitman, said he always meant to write about the Smith family’s story. “Generally, my family has been pleased by the book,” he said. The novel’s plot, told as a series of episodes important to family history, is based on Smith’s research into his family’s past. Much of it is true, such as the fact his great-grandfather had two wives in two different locations. In some cases, Smith said he had to fill in gaps in the record. The great-grandfather disappears from government records for several years, so Smith’s novel speculates that he went to prison. Jeff Vande Zande, a Michigan author and an associate professor of English at Delta College, said he enjoyed “The Long River Home.” “He’s really interested in getting it right and making his characters people you can relate to, people you know,” Vande Zande said. “There’s a realness to it that really draws you in. I think anybody reading it wouldn’t be disappointed.” Smith’s Bottom Dog Press, founded in 1984, has published more than 110 titles so far, including poetry and fiction. The titles reflect a variety of interests. Many are devoted to working class fiction. Some reflect Smith’s interest in Buddhism. More information on the company’s offerings is available at smithdocs.net. Smith said he works with an editorial board and other editors but said the company is essentially a one-man operation. He said someone once called and asked to speak to “shipping and handling.” “I said, you’re talking to shipping and handling,” Smith said.
Register photo/JASON WERLING Larry Smith, a professor at BGSU Firelands, is the author of a new book, “The Long River Home.”