Smithson Ide is 43 years old and weighs 279 pounds when his parents die in an accident. Lost in memories of childhood, Smithson uncovers his old Raleigh bicycle in the garage and begins a cross-country journey to find his beautiful, but tragically psychotic sister. Keenly aware of how ridiculous he must appear, Smithson nonetheless perseveres through a journey that is hilarious and horrifying. It is a trip, he soon realizes, that might provide his last chance to become the person he has always wanted to be.
In late 2003, in his column in Entertainment Weekly, Stephen King called The Memory of Running "the best novel you won't read this year." This glowing endorsement of the audiobook resulted in Ron McLarty receiving a $2 million two-book deal from Viking Penguin. Also, Warner Brothers has shelled out big bucks for the movie rights to The Memory of Running, for which McLarty will write the script.
©2002 Ron McLarty; (P)2002 Recorded Books, LLC
"Ron McLarty's The Memory of Running is the best novel you won't read this year. But you can experience it, and I'm all but positive that you'll thank me for the tip if you do....What I hope is that you'll order a copy and experience it for yourself....It's bighearted and as satisfying as one of your mom's home-cooked Sunday dinners." (Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly)
I first heard about this book while reading Stephen King's review of it in his Entertainment Weekly column. I put in a request for the title here at Audible and I am so glad they added it. This really is a terrific book, read by the author who is one of my favorite narrators. I didn't know what to expect at first and certainly did not see myself caught up in the story like I became. It is a truly heartwarming tale about a born loser who seems to be just smart enough to know he isn't very smart. You begin to root him on and as the tale and his journey progress he may have the chance to become the person he always wanted to be. I have listened to many audiobooks over the years, a few that I couldn't stand, some that were simply tolerated, many that I really liked and this one that I wished would just never end. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. This book was in turns hilarious and touching. A terrific effort by Ron McLarty and I hope to see more from him. I recommend this book whole-heartedly no matter what your normal listening tastes may be.
After hearing the terrific narrator Ron McLarty talk about how he felt this was a book written to be listened to, I had to agree. The story and charactors are clear and the sense of place cleanly defined. While there may not be a lot of depth to Smithy you get a great sense of exactly who he is and what he is about. Also there are holes in the narrative, but McLarty's prose and narration glide so smoothly over them, that you are swept along with Smithy as he travels the U.S. on his bike and traveling his past in his mind. What keeps this book from being great is perhaps the lack of real speed bumps and potholes that would have given the book a sense of tension. Still, the charactors we meet are well worth the visit
I usually like suspense, thrillers, anything that makes my heart pound. But I thought I would try something a little different - and I must say that this is the best possible book I could have chosen for my exploration. Gentle yet strong, lost, yet deeply sure in a million little ways, the main character touches me, and gives me hope for humanity. It is lovingly written, with great love for all the characters, and the reading makes you a part of the book. A marvelous read.
You can't help but fall in love with the protagonist, Smithy. Ron McClarty does an excellent job endearing you to Smithy and his family. In a way, it reminded me of Catcher in The Rye, and accordingly it shows that you are never too old to come of age!
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
This book made me smile and tear up. I like a book that makes me feel. The protagonists are sister and brother bound together in a story about love and loss. I stumbled upon this book and I am so glad I did.
After the first three hours, I almost put this one away. I am so glad I did not.
In those first three hours, the simplicity of the main character almost drove me away. In the end, I came to appreciate his simplicity more than anything.
Once Smithson Ide begins his long journey, breaking free from his cloistered, pathetic existence, the story quickly gains momentum. I became engrossed in his quest, remembering simple joys I have not thought of since childhood. What followed was an entertaining listen, sincere retrospection of my own life, and a main character I will not soon forget.
Through all the tragedies that befall him, Smithson Ide's decency and appreciation of the great gift of life lift him to a higher existence.
Well done, Ron McLarty - on both fronts. Good writing and sensitive, meaningful narration. I would highly recommend this book to others and look forward to your next effort.
At first I wondered where this story could go, but was intrigued and couldn't 'put it down'. Little by little I was drawn into Smithy's story. At first I though the narrator's voice was a little ordinary and unemotional, but soon I realized it was perfect for Smithy! I have passed this on to other Audible readers in the family, and continue to think about it after finishing. I recommend it, definitely. It ranks pretty high for me for this year, so far!
If they were all like this, Audible would get my entire paycheck. The story had a good pace. Ron's voice got a little petulant at the end, but this well modulated reading had me searching for other performances by him. There were so many laugh-out-loud gags and heartwarming moments that I didn't mind the crude language and transparent plot. The interview at the end made me understand how much editing went into the crafting of such a fine audio. Bravo and encore!
I normally will finish a book just to make sure I don't miss anything. This book never really gets started and all the jumping around did not draw me in. Simple sentences and observations by the main character like "Bananas are really easy to chew and they fill you up." and "I was happy to discover bananas again, they are really good." just could not hold my attention for another four hours.
I loved this story of this humble man, especially as the pieces slowly came together that suggested why his life was in a holding pattern (based on my limited knowledge of early trauma and family dynamics). The character reminded me a little bit of the main character in The Shipping News. Hats off to Audible for pointing out the genious of McLarty. He's an author with a deft yet subtle, retrained hand. And an excellent reader of his own work.
I cannot recommend this enough to everyone, it's the most heartwarming book I've ever listened to. You will take Smithy close to your heart and be upset when it's finished.
"What an enjoyable 15 hours"
I've just finished listening to this book and feel bereft.
It was lovely.
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