REVIEW | THE INDIAN
NKY Author Riding Toward Another Success
Lightning is said to strike but once. Barry Kienzle, of Villa Hills, is hoping to be an exception to that rule.
Kienzle, a lifelong resident of Northern Kentucky, is such a busy fellow that you’d think lightning would have a hard time catching up with him.
The CFO and a board member of Paul Hemmer Companies, he and his wife, Mary Jo, have two daughters and five grandchildren. The NKU alumnus is the president of the Northern Kentucky University Foundation, served on the board of The Bank of Kentucky, and now serves on BB&T’s local Advisory Board.
Additionally, Kienzle has served on the boards of the Construction Financial Management Association’s Cincinnati chapter, Habitat for Humanity and Summit Hills Country Club. In 2008, he received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business.
Yet, that barely scratches the surface of who Barry Kienzle is. His ability to patiently tackle a task is probably the outgrowth of a youth spent recovering from the many surgeries required by his bout with childhood polio. Those extended downtimes gave him the opportunity to read a lot, think a lot and write a lot. Several years ago, he parlayed those opportunities into his first novel, “The Crossings.”
That novel told the tale of Georgie and Schmitty, 12-year-old boys with a plan, growing up in Latonia, Kentucky, during the Depression. Kienzle mixed impeccable historical research with some darn good storytelling to produce a book that was not just popular with the locals, but enjoyed by readers around the country. He was the grand prize winner of the Great Southeast Book Festival, received Silver from the Mom’s Choice Awards and the Bronze from the Readers’ Choice Book Awards. Honors have followed from the Hollywood Book Festival, The San Francisco Book Festival and the New York Book Festival, among others.
Now, about that lightning. Kienzle enjoyed his success with “The Crossings,” but spent no time resting on his laurels.
His new novel, “The Indian,” finds George and Schmitty coming of age in a world on the brink of war.
Twenty-year-old Schmitty is impatient for life to begin. As the winds of war begin to swirl in 1940, he hops on a 1915 Indian Big Twin motorcycle and, urged on by something he cannot define, sets out alone on a ride from Latonia, Kentucky, to the Dakotas in search of his destiny. Kienzle takes readers along on this fly-by-the-seat-of–his-pants journey that leads Schmitty through the brave pasts of other men to his own future; a future defined by adventure, love and true courage in an era when selflessness was common on a grand scale.
Kienzle possesses an extraordinary ability to perfectly capture the lives and times of ordinary Americans during the 1940s. He researched both the American Indian culture and the war in the Pacific theater, especially as pertains to destroyers, B-17 planes and the DD411 Anderson, on which the character of George served. The result is a story that will surely be a favorite among readers who remember those days, and will serve as a primer for those who have yet to discover them.
“The Indian” will be published in late June, just in time to debut at the National Education Convention in Washington, D.C., and Kienzle and his wife will travel there with Headline Books to promote both “The Crossings” and “The Indian.” He can’t linger long. He has to get back to Northern Kentucky to continue work on his third book, the true life story of a unique Kentucky high school athlete. Given the Kienzle treatment, it is sure to attract another lightning strike.
Cincinnati.com, June 4, 2016
Community Recorder guest columnist