Larry Baker’s wife would insist that the use of “career” in conjunction with his life is a bit misleading. Admitting that, however, Larry would still insist that he has done a few things in his life that might constitute real work.
He is currently an adjunct Assistant Professor for the University of Iowa, teaching American Social and Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. At Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, he is an adjunct instructor of American History.
With a PhD in English, he began teaching composition and literature on the college level in 1988, but he soon discovered that he was an overly critical comp teacher and an overly opinionated lit teacher. Thus, he went back to graduate school and earned 15 hours of post-doctorate credit in history, being certified to teach basic American History courses at the community college level. He was very happy. He is known for entertaining and enlightening lectures, and he is an easy grader. Students love him. Most students do. At least, many.
Prior to getting his PhD in 1986, Larry was, in no particular order in a list not meant to be comprehensive: a Pizza Hut manager, Pinkerton security guard, emcee at a strip club, ad salesman, sports reporter, and hotel desk clerk. Most importantly, he owned and operated movie theatres throughout Oklahoma and Texas for fifteen years.
After moving to Iowa City in 1980 to finish his PhD, Larry was soon involved in local politics. He was elected twice (yes, people voted for him) to the City Council. From that experience came his second novel, ATHENS/AMERICA (2005), a book that managed to agitate the dots of many people in Iowa City. Shortly after ATHENS was published, Larry ran for another term on the Council. He came in fifth.
Although he had been publishing short stories since he was a teenager, he was fifty before his first novel, THE FLAMINGO RISING (Knopf-1997), was published. FLAMINGO was one of three finalists for the Barnes and Noble “Great New Voices” award for 1997, a Los Angeles Times “Top 100” book for 1997, and chosen by the Iowa Center for the Book to represent Iowa at the 2010 National Book Festival in Washington. It was also adapted for a Hallmark tv movie in 2001.
His latest novel, A GOOD MAN (2009), was nominated for “Book of the Year” by the Southeast Independent Booksellers Association in 2010.
This year, he was included on the Iowa Literary Walk of Fame; joining other writers such as John Irving, Marilynne Robinson, Kurt Vonnegut, and Flannery O’Connor, et al.
Everything considered, Larry thinks his parents would be proud of him, and surprised. His wife is still skeptical.
Flannery O'Connor, Melville, Hawthorne, and all the usual suspects
A Good Man (with thanks to Harry Chapin and Flannery O'Connor)
First Coast Books-2005 (now decidedly defunct)
Holt International Adoption Services
Harry Chapin Foundation
National Public Radio
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