The Memory of Running

"The best book you can't read."

— Stephen King


Meet Smithson "Smithy" Ide, an overweight, friendless, chain-smoking, forty-three-year-old drunk who works as a quality control inspector at a toy-action-figure factory in Rhode Island. By all accounts, especially Smithy's own, he's a loser. Then, within one week, Smithy's beloved parents are killed in a car crash, and Smithy learns that his emotionally troubled, long-lost sister, Bethany, has turned up in a morgue in Los Angeles. Unmoored by the loss of his entire family-Smithy had always hoped Bethany might return-he rolls down the driveway of his parents' house on his old Raleigh bicycle into an epic journey that will take him clear across the country. 

As Smithy pedals across America-to New York City, St. Louis, Denver, and Phoenix, to name a few-he encounters humanity at its best and worst and begins to remember an early life that too many beers have blotted out. The baseball games, the home-cooked meals, the soothing presence of his salt-of-the-earth parents: none of it could transform the dark truth of his sister's madness. 

The Memory of Running, McLarty's stunning debut as a novelist, heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction. And Smithy Ide-sad, sweet, and funny in spite of himself-is a character who will linger in your mind long after his hilarious, luminous, and extraordinary adventures have come to an end.

Map of Smithy Ide's journey across the U.S.