Saturday, May 07, 2005

Books of '05: The Memory of Running

I stopped reading Marquez's autobiography. The writing was beautiful but I wasn't in the right headspace for it. A bit heavy duty. On my father's suggestion I started reading The Memory of Running by Ron Mclarty. I remember reading a review a few months ago and noting to myself that Mclarty was from here in Rhode Island. Apparently he has been writing for most of his life but this has been his first novel to be published a situation I hope to find myself in someday. In the usual its not what you know but who you know scenario Stephen King read this manuscript and saw to it that he be published. Viking publishing too, not too shabby.

As it turns out most of the book takes place in the town that I grew up in. Home sweet home. Passages about the fishing spots my dad used to take me to, whole chapters about my high school, and even mentions of the Boy Scout camp where I spent large chunks of my boyhood summers. I have been trying to read 40 pages a day and this book makes it easy. The narrative though depressing seems familiar and heartwarming. In the first three chapters "Smithy" Ide's parents and sister die. The other day I was reading in the cafeteria at work and on the verge of tears as "Smithy" talks to his mom in her dying moments. That's good writing.

Reading this book reminds me of the first time that I read "On the Road". "Smithy" hops on his bike to ride across the country for no apparent reason ala Forrest Gump and learns quite a bit about himself in the process all the while recounting childhood memories of East Providence Rhode Island.

It is moments like this, pivotal moments, that I had always failed. Sometimes there are moments when a person has to make a decision, as opposed to letting things just happen. A person has to happen himself. I had never done this. Life bounced off me, and bounced me and now it was going to bounce me to death. My fat ass, my blue suit. And so I turned my sizzling Raleigh off the 95 hill onto the Hope Valley exit ramp at approximately sixty-five miles per hour.


I am not one to go around recommending books. If someone asks what I'm reading I have no problem sharing but I normally don't initiate the conversation knowing that most of my friends and acquaintances have different tastes in books than I do (if they read at all) McLarty's Running will snap me out of that. Maybe its the home town thing but I will be giving this book as gifts and shouting from the mountain tops the fun and wild ride these memories of his bring.

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