I drive two hours per day and so have become quite a recurring customer at Audible.com . I've listened to many books but this one truly captivated me, made me drive real slow so as to remain with the character as long as possible. It also really made me ponder on what binds families, people, societies and on what keeps us going in our daily lives (and what is simply pretending to keep on going)...
Smithy Ide has a simple life with maybe a bit more tragedy in it than most people have. But not that much more... How he copes with it, how he transforms himself, how he listens to others, it all renders him highly endearing. The portrayal of America, it's great beauty and it's occasional ugliness, is also very strong. Ron Mclarty has done an incredible job, first in writing this great novel and second in reading it in such masterful way. The best audiobook I ever listened to !!!!!
This book took hold of my attention early, and by the end I wanted to meet the main character, named Smithy, and befriend him. There's something about Smithy, perhaps that he's so nice or selfless or self-deprecating or self-unaware, that made me root for him. He and his experiences remind me of Forrest Gump, except that the only thing exceptional about Smithy is his ability to listen. This book evokes sadness, laughter, hopefulness, and endearment. As an added bonus, I have reintroduced bananas into my daily diet (you'll have to read it to understand that part) :).
This is one of those rare occasions when the author is also a wonderful narrator. A story about simple people going about their every day lives, this story will bring an occasional tear to your eyes between many chuckles and laughs.
I listen to books when I'm at work or doing chores. I prefer history and fantasy. My favorite audio book is Going Postal by Terry Pratchett.
I had a feeling I was in for trouble when someone decided this book needed to begin with a summary telling you how good it is because you might not notice for yourself. Stephen King wrote an entire book on what makes a good novel and yet his book recommendations always run counter to his own very good advice. McLarty needs to get himself a copy and take note of some key passages:
1): "I'm not particularly keen on writing which exhaustively describes the physical characteristics of the people in the story and what they're wearing (I find wardrobe inventory particularly irritating; if I want to read descriptions of clothes, I can always jet a J. Crew catalogue.)"
2) "It's also important to remember it's not about the setting, anyway - it's about the story, it's always about the story...In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it "got boring" the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling."
3) "In medias res necessitates flashbacks, which strike me as boring and sort of corny...As a reader I'm much more interested in what's going to happen than what all ready did."
4) "The most important things to remember about back story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn't very interesting. Stick to the parts that are, and don't get carried away with the rest. Long life stories are best received in bars, and only then an hour before closing time, and if you are buying."
Where's my beer McLarty? You owe me after this mess.
Love his voice and his ability to give each character their own sound, engaging story, I felt it was a little abrupt at the end but overall I'm glad I bought it.
I listen while I drive and I love to drive
I really enjoyed all of the characters Smithson meets in his quest. The book made me want to get of my old fat butt and put some miles on my bike.
I enjoyed this book, but the flashbacks bothered me. I understand that they were an important part of the book, but the way they were written made it difficult for me to keep track of the story. Ide would begin a flashback of his sister but wouldn't finish that part of the story until much later in the book. This jumping back and forth was annoying to me.
I found this book to be wonderfully descriptive and imaginative. The simple optimism of Smithy in spite of all his hardships was very refreshing. Great job of narrating as well!