The Memory Of Running - Ron McLarty

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The Memory Of Running - Ron McLarty

Post by Graham on Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:11 am

This is another very sad book, but it is also wonderful. It opens with a tragedy, the death of Smithson Ide’s parents in a car accident. In clearing the house, Smithy finds a letter telling his father the body of Smithy’s sister Bethany has been identified and being held in Venice, California. Smithy rescues his old bicycle from his parents’ garage on Rhode Island and despite the belly hanging over his waistband begins a wild ride with no clear destination. Accidents befall him, strangers help him as he helps others and gradually Smithy formulates a plan: to claim his sister’s remains on the other side of the continent.

Alternating with the chapters describing his journey, the story of his sister emerges. Bethany is beautiful and bright but in late childhood she slips gradually into psychosis. Initially this takes the form of ‘poses’ in which she remains stationary for hours. Then there are the disappearances. The family have not heard from her now for twenty years.

With this accumulation of sadness, you might wonder what there is to enjoy in McLarty’s novel, but it is a tale of redemption. Aside from his stint in Vietnam, Smithy has done little with his life except consume vast quantities of beer and pretzels. He has also spurned his childhood friend Norma after an accident confines her to a wheelchair. Smithy is an innocent and neither bright nor ambitious. He is continually misjudged but has a loving heart that Norma encourages. McLarty tells the story with heart and hope in the voice of Smithy. It is not just a noteworthy achievement but a thoroughly enjoyable book.

Graham
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