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Interview: Kenny Luck, Author of Thumbing Through Thoreau

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Kenny Luck brings the world a peek into Henry David Thoreau, as he reminds the world of a simpler time and the importance of dreams and living deliberately, with a marvelous collection of Thoreau's quotes, in his debut book Thumbing Through Thoreau.  Mr. Luck is a graduate student at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and holds a Bachelor's Degree in History and Political Science.  In addition to his newest book, Mr. Luck is also a writer for The Weekender — an arts and entertainment weekly — and The Independent.  

Currently, Kenny Luck is at work on his second book as well as spending free time recording music, traveling and book browsing. 

First of all, could you tell us a bit about Thumbing Through Thoreau? What is the story about, who are the characters, etc.

The book is a collection of quotations by the American transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau.

Do you have a favorite excerpt from Thumbing Through Thoreau? Could you share that with us, please?

"If I were to be baptized it should be in this pond," wrote Nathanial Hawthorne, reflecting upon the majesty of Walden Pond one autumn afternoon in 1843. "But then one would not wish to pollute it by washing off his sins into it. None but angels should bathe here."

As I stood on the edge of Walden Pond, about to make a symbolic leap into what had become in my mind a scared place, Hawthorne's poetic observation was not present in my thoughts. For a summer day, it was unusually cold; a light mist rose above the surface of the water; and having forgotten my towel and bathing suit at home in Pennsylvania, I was forced to strip down, making do with what I was wearing in that revealing moment. I hung my clothes on a nearby tree branch and began inching my way toward the water. It was a ritual Henry David Thoreau, one of America's first literary giants, had performed countless times during his stay in the woods.
[From Introduction]

What do you want readers to take away from reading Thumbing Through Thoreau?

I would like readers to gain a better understanding of Thoreau and his ideas through this compact, illustrated introduction.

What was the most fun about writing Thumbing Through Thoreau?

I enjoyed discovering new, lesser known sayings in Thoreau's journals and correspondences.

What was the hardest part about writing Thumbing Through Thoreau?

There was a lot of meticulous research that required long hours at a computer and in the library.

What kind of research did you do for Thumbing Through Thoreau?

I read lots of primary source material. Books that were written by Thoreau himself.

Could you please tell us about your writing process?

Because most of my writing is non-fiction, I usually begin with interviews. I like to quote authorities in certain subject areas. What is more, while I begin to write I like to break-down whatever sections I am working on into smaller, more manageable parts.

Do you have any particular habits that you take part in while writing? By that I mean certain music you like to listen to, foods you like to eat, environment that helps you write better, etc.

I can't write at home. There are too many distractions. I read somewhere that Kafka used to write at home among his parents. I can't do that. I like to write in coffee shops because it keeps me on track.

What make you take that leap from "wanting" to be a writer, as opposed to "becoming" a writer? Many talk of being a writer and dip their toes in, but it seems there is often a sort of "push" to bring one over that wall.

My drive to become a writer happened incrementally over several years while I was an undergraduate in college. It took at least three years before I really started to surpass my own expectations. Then, out of nowhere, it kind of hits you, "Wow!"  I thought to myself, "I can actually do this."

Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

Interestingly, I was not an avid reader as a child. Early on, I started off as a musician; much of my time was spent learning musical instruments.

If you had to summarize your life and give it a book title, what would that title be?

The title of my book would be, "With Any Luck: A Memoir by Kenny Luck."

What are you working on right now? Could you give us a taste/teaser (aka excerpt) from your current WIP?

I am working on a book titled, NEPA[IZED]! Behind the People and Controversies that Define Us. The book explores several influential people and issues that have been in the news in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a sample from the book. This is from a chapter about Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta:

 "In August 2006, the Hazelton City Council passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act. The act was dubious, and its constitutionality was immediately challenged. The legislation was an attempt to halt the spread of immigration which, according to Barletta, was the cause of a recent crime surge, over-crowded schools and strained social-services in Hazelton. Barletta argued that "a high-profile murder, the discharge of a gun at a crowded city playground and drug busts," were enough evidence to rationalize his xenophobic paranoia towards ethic newcomers. Adopting a bullet-proof vest as part of his wardrobe, Barletta vowed to make Hazelton one of the "toughest places in the United States" for illegal immigrants. He even invented his own slogan: "You Are Not Welcome."

What are you reading right now?

Right now, I am reading a short book about punctuation, and another about literary theory.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Obviously, Thoreau would be at the top of the list. However, in terms of contemporary authors, I like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.

If you could have lunch and chat with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I would like to chat with John Paul Sartre. He was known to be a great conversationalist. He was someone who was always working on new ideas. To be in his presence would be a great opportunity.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next five years?

I hope to publish a second book and possibly start work on a Ph. D.

Where can readers get in touch with you? Twitter, Blog, Facebook, etc?
Facebook works the best for me.

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About April Pohren

  • I’ve seen this book popping up online from time to time as I browse around. It sounds like such a neat book.


  • April,

    Thank you for your interview with Kenny and for spreading the word about “Thumbing Through Thoreau.”

    Best wishes,