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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning actor and playwright Ron McLarty is well known for his audiobook performances. What fewer people realize is that he's also an accomplished author. In this wonderfully quirky novel, available exclusively as an audiobook, McLarty takes readers on a quest to find hope and redemption with an unlikely hero.

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

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  • Overall

A wonderful experience!

This was my first audio-book and I have to say it was fantastic. The story is moving and Ron Mclarty does a great job reading his own story. He gives each character life with his voice and the pace seemed perfect. I hated that it had to end.I hope to hear more from him.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lenore
  • Carmel, CA, USA
  • 05-14-04

It's in the voice...

This was enjoyable. I wish more writers would read their own work. I found inspiration in what he (character in the book) did. The discussion session between writer and editor was really interesting. So much enjoyment in good narration. Thanks.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

After many audiobooks, a true wonder !

I drive two hours per day and so have become quite a recurring customer at . 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 !!!!!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Book worm
  • Greensboro, North Carolina
  • 04-29-04

The Memory of Running

I downloaded this book mainly on Stephen King's recommendation. This has worked in the past but twenty minutes into the story I was wondering if I had made a mistake. Happily, it wasn't long before I was fully engrossed in the story and by the end of the book I was hoping for more. Like others I found myself cheering for Smithson Ide and his incredibly sad and incredibly engaging life.

Some have called this book "boring" with "shallow" characters. I found neither to be true. Older listeners will likely relate better to the plot, especially if they've had disappointments and tragedies of their own. A dominant theme running throughout the book is that terrible things can happen to people but people needn't become terrible as a result.

I would like to compare this book to Yann Martel's excellent "Life of Pi". Reviewers have said that the Life of Pi would make you believe in God. Similarly, McLarty's "Memories of Running" will make you believe in the goodness of people and the strength of the human spirit.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • Austin, TX, USA
  • 04-28-04

An Inspirational Read

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) :).

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Gerald W
  • Bloomington, IN, USA
  • 04-18-04

Both laughs and tears

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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

McLarty Needs to Read "On Writing"

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.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Chantelle
  • Georgetown, Ontario, Canada
  • 07-17-09

Enjoyable Listen

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.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • LillyO
  • Idaho Falls, ID USA
  • 05-12-09


Great narration as well as a great book. I can't believe how lucky I am to come across this "read." What a story of triumph and how we can all create change in our lives with even the most unlikely inspiration.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Fun Listen

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.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful