The Memory of Running
by Ron McLarty
Paperback- N/A

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  "Incredible characters - a beautiful story - and adventure any of us might want to take." by Carolinem (see profile) 05/10/08

This is a powerful story with excellent character development. A powerful read.

  "The Memory of Running" by hgould (see profile) 10/13/09

  "The Memory of Running" by dmslibrarian (see profile) 01/04/12

As Smithson Ide remembers growing up in a house with a psychologically damaged older sister, he gets under your skin. The story of his past, and the story of his present, are inspiring....the characters memorable. This is one of those books I wanted to finish, but hated to finish because I didn't want for it to end.

  "Fascinating "coming of age" for a middle-aged man" by FTessa (see profile) 07/08/13

Recorded book, read by the author

Smithson Ide (Smithy) is 43, a self-described loser working at a toy factory, a chain-smoker, a drunk and obese, when a family tragedy pushes him to DO something. Coming across his old bicycle, Smithy starts pedaling … and then keeps pedaling on a journey across America and towards a new life.

The novel is told in alternating chapters – one giving the background on the Ide family, especially Smithy’s older sister Bethany who suffers from mental illness; the next chronicling the present-day happenings as Smithy bikes from Rhode Island to California. This style (dual time frames) is not easy to pull off, but McLarty does a pretty good job of it. The change in perspective can be abrupt, but not jarring and I found it easy to follow these parallel stories.

I was a little confused about Norma – the girl next door. She wasn’t as fully developed as I would have liked, and I didn’t really understand the attraction between her and Smithy at first. Of course, I didn’t really understand Smithy, either. He’s a complicated character and difficult to get to know, but I think that’s the point. I grew to like him, and was cheering him on.

Along his journey Smithy comes across a variety of characters that help him. These cameo appearances are brief but well-drawn, and I wish McLarty would write a few more novels about some of them.

McLarty does a fine job of narrating the audio version. His pacing is good, and his style of reading aloud works well for this first-person narrative.

  "Walk - Don't Run Through This Story" by nbaker (see profile) 08/12/14

The Memory of Running is a story you will want to take your time with. Let the emotions and characters wash over you slowly to absorb every drop. Smithson Ides (Smithy) is a middle-aged man whose life has been compounded with constant obstacles surrounding his sister, Bethany, who deals with severe mental issues. The toll taken and damage inflicted on Smithy and his parents was, at times, unbearable and as the story progressed I felt actual pain as Bethany struggled with her internal voices and wanted to scream out "don't". Bethany disappears in her early adult life, Smithy's parents die from an auto accident and Smithy is left a lonely, obese, aging man with no direction and little ambition. Upon finding a letter addressed to his now-deceased father, he discovers his sister's body has been discovered in Los Angeles. Alone and adrift, one night he uncovers his old boyhood bicycle and suddenly takes off down the open road to air the tires. Like a faint image of the book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, he can't seem to stop and without realizing why, sets off on a bicycle ride that will take him from Providence, Rhode Island to California; a ride that will take him from floundering to freedom; a ride that will fill his lungs to capacity with love and life. The chapters bounce back and forth from Smithy's childhood, to his early adult years and the drama his sister played in everyone's lives to his present situation and location. I will admit that I didn't read this book but listened to an audio version of it narrated by the author himself. Through the author's voice and diction, he made the constant and sometimes bumpy obstacle course from past to present, from present to past and from past to future seem relatively smooth and his voice lent a very descriptive feel to the image conjured up for Smith's appearance and personality. His journey was filled with numerous characters that I wanted to know better and follow as well. Needless to say, this was a story of coming of age (even at 43), embracing life without fear or reservation, accepting what has transpired in one's life and hope for what may be ahead. It was a beautiful story that I did not want to end. I was so engrossed in the story that I hurried through the 11 CDs and will now have to buy me a copy of the actual book so that I can re-read it at some time and savor every bite like a fine chocolate. A wonderful story for all ages.

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