Meet the Author: Larry Ehrhorn
I am delighted to welcome Larry Ehrhorn to Books, Life and Everything today. I will be reviewing Larry's debut novel, Four Months in Brighton Park, in January 2019 but first here's an opportunity to find out more about Larry.
First of all, welcome to Books. Life and Everything Larry. Would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself and how you started as a writer?
I started as a writer way back in my curious grade school days, when I had teachers who challenged me to write about unusual topics. (Example; Timbuktu and Kalamazoo) a fantastic poem!) I later went on to teach high school English, during which I wrote much of my novel while the kids were working on assignments.
I am self-published through Createspace, so there were no surprises.
Tell us three surprising things about yourself.
Three personal oddities –
1. I have been on all seven continents
2. I am much older than most people assume (71), and
3. I married a former student of mine (still married after 38 years)
Can you let us know a little about your novel without giving the plot away?
My basic character is a 17-year-old senior at a Chicago high school in 1965. Kelly is being raised by a single mother, and the book traces his last four months before graduation.. He finds guidance by some unusual characters -- a bodega owner, a weathered strip-tease dancer, his mother's abusive boyfriend, and a mousy girl who most people would ignore but who helped Kelly to mature.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I wrote it all by hand on lined paper, then rewrote it a second time, and finally word processed it. I have no definite writing routine; I simply enjoy writing and do so when I want, especially late at night. I research by memory and visiting place I actually use in the book (Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, my high school, now with a changed name, and many Chicago sites, which I frequented when growing-up. My book took me thirty years to write because I lack discipline, was very busy after college, and actually lost it for about five years. I found it again when I moved.Surprise!
Do you believe in writer's block? What do you do to break its spell?
I enjoy writing, but it is not a vocation. When I get writer's block, I walk the dog.
Can you give any hints about upcoming books you have planned?
I am about fifty (still writing with pen and paper) pages into my new book, which I refer to as my "dog book."
Thanks for those insights, Larry. Let's take a look at Four Months in Brighton Park.
Set in a working class neighborhood on Chicago's southwest side in 1965, "Four Months in Brighton Park" focuses on Kelly Elliott, the kid with two first names. Kelly is a cross between Holden Caulfield and Walter Mitty, rarely facing reality until one day when he is forced to confront the consequences of his actions, when he impulsively makes an obscene gesture at Joe Swedarsky, the school jock and bully. That initial conflict starts a cascade of humorous and affecting dominoes that change his life. Being raised by his single, hard-working mother, Kelly stumbles through misadventures -- dealing with his mother's tyrannical pilot boyfriend, peer pressure, male curiosities, teachers, and friendships. Besides Ma, his guides through this journey include Little Joey, the legless owner of a local deli; best friend Jerry Hogan, Mary Harker, a troubled, mature woman; and Linda Martinsen, the quiet girl who found something likable in Kelly. The four month journey taken by Kelly provides insight, change, humor and empathy, elements of which all people are familiar.
About the Author
Larry Ehrhorn was born in Chicago and raised in the city and its suburbs. After his own graduation (not nearly astraumatic as Kelly's), he attended Northern Illinois University, workingsummers and vacation holidays at various factories. After college graduation (a whole other story), Ehrhorn began a 33-year career as a high school Englishteacher (not Mr. Bates from the novel) in various schools ranging from aChicago large suburban school to several small rural schools in Wisconsin. It was this during this somewhat lengthy career when he realized that times and places change, but students do not. Much of Four Months in Brighton Park reflects not only the author but themore than 3,000 students he taught.