On September 29, author Gary Porter will host a book launch at the Warren Cultural Center in Greenfield, Iowa, to celebrate the release of his book, Town Kid: Reflections of a Midwestern Boyhood. The event will start with a reading at 1:00 p.m.; a reception lasting until 3:00 p.m. will follow.
In Town Kid—published by the Write Place—Porter uses words to create snapshots of a simpler place and time: growing up in the small town of Greenfield during the fifties and sixties. In each of the book’s 32 essays, Porter warmly invites readers to step into his memories. In the era before soccer camps and video games, Porter recalls how the swimming pool across the street was his second home during the dog days of summer. His town square was the equivalent of a modern-day Walmart, and the fairgrounds on the edge of town were magical.
The people of Greenfield left a lasting impression on Porter as well—from the Irish priest, to the pipe-smoking neighbor, to the diminutive aunt and uncle with oversized hearts. And then there was Sparky, the Pepsi-loving bay pony.
The publication of Town Kid has been years in the making for Porter, with some of the book’s essays appearing several years ago in local papers like the Adair County Free Press and the River Falls Journal. Porter recalled that after reading those essays, people started asking, “When is your book coming out?”
So, a year ago he set himself to the task of writing a book that would preserve memories of small-town life. In its final format, Porter’s rich, nostalgic prose is accompanied by black-and-white photographs, most hailing from The Sidey Collection®—the works of four generations of photojournalists connected to the Adair County Free Press.
“My hope is that, wherever you may have lived, the words and images in this book will transport you away from this fast-paced world and back to your small town,” said Porter.
Reader response to Town Kid has been overwhelmingly positive. “Porter’s essays touch a chord in Iowans lucky enough to have been there, done that,” said Mary Kay Shanley, Iowa’s 2012 Author of the Year. “Read this lovely book, then revisit your hometown—in person or in your dreams.”
Said Drake University President Marty Martin, “Gary Porter’s collection of stories take me back to my own childhood in small-town Kentucky. Be forewarned, in the remembering there is some melancholy along with an immense amount of joy—just as it should be.”
As part of the Saturday event, copies of Town Kid: Reflections of a Midwestern Boyhood will be on sale at Ed & Eva’s, the gift shop in the Warren Cultural Center. Town Kid is also available for purchase on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. Porter will host another reading at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines on October 4 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Gary Porter graduated from Drake University, where he is currently a distinguished lecturer. Porter currently lives in Hudson, Wisconsin, with his wife, Melissa, and their rescue dog, Polly. He is the author of numerous accounting textbooks, as well as Duffy: The Tale of a Terrier, a book inspired by the couple’s first shelter dog. Readers can learn more about the Porters and Town Kid at https://www.facebook.com/thetownkid/.