Nostalgia and Baby Seats: Welcoming a New Author to the Parisian Phoenix Family

I’ve been working with storyteller Larry Sceurman of the Lehigh Valley Storyteller’s Guild for a couple of months now. He approached me after Joan Zachary gave a presentation on photography’s role in book layout and as inspiration for the creative process during a Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group meeting in June. (To see the highlights of Joan’s talk, click here.)

Larry has not only a knack for telling a story, but also a sense of nostalgia that mixes with wisdom to create fictionalized tales of self-experience, familiar places and relatable struggle that hit home in many ways.

Larry wanted to produce an anthology of his short stories, Coffee in the Morning, for this coming Christmas season, but at my urging, we’re bringing out his longest story, The Death of Big Butch, as a stand-alone novella first.

As Larry and I have worked side-by-side preparing his manuscript, I have slowly learned the details of what aspects of the story are true, which came from a dream, and why this story is important to him. That part of storytelling is the part that readers don’t often consciously absorb: the historical value of the work. That fascinates me, and it’s why Parisian Phoenix’s mission is to promote unique voices.

Although it’s not spelled out in the text (though I am encouraging Larry to write an introduction or an epilogue for the work to make these connections more concrete), Larry’s fictionalized town comes from his memories and experiences in Fullerton here in the Lehigh Valley where he spent a lot of time with his grandparents.

Larry places the story within a specific week in May 1974 and uses this time to remark about the decline of small town Americana, the rise of “Mall culture” (which threatened small local business in the way that later megastores and Amazon would threaten the malls), and how alcohol impacted many blue collar families.

Larry’s main character is named Jimmy, which was my father’s name. And he calls his son Little Jimmy, which was my brother’s nickname until he had a namesake son. Jimmy works on cars. My dad was a diesel mechanic for most of my childhood. My father passed away last December, and his birthday was yesterday.

Angel, wanting to be like her Daddy

In honor of my dad, and as a welcome to Larry in this first official post promoting him as part of the Parisian Phoenix family, I wanted to share this photo of me in my Shell outfit probably circa 1978.

I bring my own nostalgia and small town memories to The Death of Big Butch. The way the town in the story works it reminds me of those trips down Main Street in an early Stephen King novel, where he spends hundreds of words setting a scene. Now, Larry, as a verbal storyteller, does not paint that heavy of a picture. But when his characters move from place to place and interact with each other you get that kind of vibe.

I hope that each of you will find a similar happy but thought provoking nostalgia in Larry’s work.

And in closing, The Death of Big Butch, opens with a ’65 Mustang with a child safety seat in the back. In case you wonder what that looked like in the mid-seventies, I found this on Pinterest. And if you’re a nerd like me and want to dip deeper into child safety history, let me recommend this article: The Dangerous History of Bad Child Safety Seat Designs.

(Larry will be doing scary stories for adults at the Nazareth Area Public Library on October 27. More info here.)

Published by Angel Ackerman

Writer, Editor, Traveler, Fashionista, Francophile, Student and Mother Publisher at Parisian Phoenix (parisianphoenix.com) Author of the Fashion and Fiends series

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