Synopses & Reviews
The Memory of Running
tells the story of Smithson Ide, a 43-year-old, 279-pound supervisor at a GI Joe factory where his job is to make sure that the arms of the action figures are properly turned in, not out. After his parents die in a car crash, Smithson discovers that his beautiful, mentally disturbed older sister Bethany has also died, in California. Smithson retrieves his old Raleigh bicycle in the garage of his parents' Rhode Island home and begins a cross-country journey to reclaim Bethany's body. The novel moves back and forth in alternating chapters that give us the story of Smithson's family, particularly his sister's descent into madness, and the story of his epic odyssey across America. Keenly aware of how ridiculous he must appear on his bike, Smithson nevertheless perseveres through a long journey that is hilarious, luminous and extraordinary.
From Stephen King's "The Pop of King" column in Entertainment Weekly: "The Memory of Running is the story of 279-pound Smithson Ide, a smokes-too-much, drinks-too-much heart attack waiting to happen. I mean, this guy is a mess...Smithy is an American original, worthy of a place on the shelf just below your Hucks, your Holdens, and your Yossarians...this is a book that can do no more than walk; it has a chance to be a breakout bestseller. It's big-hearted and satisfying as one of your Mom's home-cooked Sunday dinners...So why not ride across America with Smith and root for him...you'll be striking a blow for the good old American novel. More important, you'll do the stuff good novels are supposed to make you do laugh a little, cry a little, maybe ride(or jog) an extra time around the block in order to find out what happens next.You'll also discover a fine American voice."
"Smithy Ide is a really nice guy. But he's also an overweight, friendless, womanless, hard-drinking, 43-year-old self-professed loser with a breast fetish and a dead-end job, given to stammering 'I just don't know' in life's confusing moments. When Smithy's entire family dies, he embarks on a transcontinental bicycle trip to recover his sister's body and rediscover what it means to live. Along the way, he flashes back to his past and the hardships of his beloved sister's schizophrenia, while his dejection encourages strangers to share their life stories. The road redeems the innocent Smithy: he loses weight; rescues a child from a blizzard; rebuffs the advances of a nubile, 'apple-breasted' co-cyclist after seeing a vision of his dead sister; and nurtures a telephone romance with a paraplegic family friend as he processes his rocky past. McLarty, a playwright and television actor, propels the plot with glib mayhem including three tragic car accidents in 31 pages and a death by lightning bolt and a lot of bighearted and warm but faintly mournful humor. It's a funny, poignant, slightly gawky debut that aims, like its protagonist, to please and usually does. Agent, Jeff Kleinman at Graybill & English. Forecast: Stephen King hailed this as 'the best book you can't read' (it was an audiobook only) in a now-famous 2003 Entertainment Weekly column; a 15-city tour and McLarty's certain stage presence should make plenty of folks sit up and take notice." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In The Memory of Running, professional actor and long-aspiring novelist Ron McLarty has invented a character so fully and elegantly defined that the book soars with originality and life." San Francisco Chronicle
"McLarty writes simply and honestly, and we are right there with Smithy on every step of his remarkable journey. We join in his mourning and celebrate his triumphs. In the end, we find ourselves deeply moved by this flawed but lovable Don Quixote." Bookreporter.com
"Wonderfully full-bodied, deep-souled first novel that is both melancholy and masterly....He's neither sentimental nor overwrought but speaks as clearly as he can, bringing into focus a marginalized America and the wounded souls that inhabit it. His voice will haunt you long after the novel is over." Providence Journal
About the Author
Ron McLarty is an award-winning actor and playwright best known for his appearances on television series, including Law & Order, Sex and the City, The Practice, and Judging Amy. He has appeared in films and on the stage, where he has directed many of his own plays.