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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

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Funny and Fascinating, A Wonderful Book

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.

170 of 179 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 01-31-04

A great book written to be listened to

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

47 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Leiah
  • Golden, CO, USA
  • 08-17-04


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.

58 of 65 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


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!

28 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Glenn
  • Demopolis, AL, USA
  • 12-16-05

Give it a chance

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.

29 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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The Negative Reviews Say It All For Me

When I research and bought this book all I could see were all the 5 star raving reviews and the Stephen King endorsement. To me, this story is frustrating, slow, boring and lacking plot. The characters are wandering, undeveloped and what is there is really just plain unlikable. I can't recommend it--though based on reviews others seem to love this dreary book. I'm just sorry that I wasted even a minute on this listen. Disappointing.

35 of 43 people found this review helpful

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  • Suzn F
  • Fletcher, VT, US
  • 01-23-12

if you want just a lovely book with heart

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.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Disappointment

I tried and tried to like this book. But I couldn't. I kept hoping it would end, but it went on endlessly and aimlessly, until it got the better of me. I had to quit.

Ron McLarty is a wonderful reader, and he has a glimmer of hope as a writer. However, he needs to take plot and character lessons. The book had no plot and, on the few occasions when it tried at plot, it failed. The characters started out as likeable, but then they grey tiresome in their exceeding simplicity, almost stupid and silly ways.

I would have given this book one star, but the reading by Mr. McLarty, as usual, is excellent, even though the words went nowhere.

I think Mr. McLarty might actually make it as a writer someday, but not on this one, I'm sad to say.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA
  • 03-19-05


As Smithy has said many times throughout this awful book "Why am I so stupid". I felt the same way having listened to the whole thing. Don't waste your time.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Kim
  • Spokane, WA, United States
  • 12-21-11

Excellent !!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book - extremely well written and even better that it is narrated by the author. Ron McClarty does an excellent job of transporting you through the emotional and physical journey of the main character. Honest, authentic, and simple - this story will make you think about the adventure that may lie right outside your door if only you had the courage to go and find it.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • A. Wolff
  • 02-19-11

What an enjoyable 15 hours

I've just finished listening to this book and feel bereft.
It was lovely.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • sarahmoose2000
  • 05-18-09

Just Fantastic

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.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful