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Traveler

Jono Riley, a fifty something actor/bartender living in Manhattan receives a letter about the death of his childhood sweetheart. The news propels Jono to travel back to his old working class neighborhood of East Providence, RI. McLarty brilliantly weaves scenes between past and present taking readers on a hilarious and heartrending journey through Jono's coming-of-age in the early 1960's.

 

Readers and reviewers alike raved about Ron McLarty's poignant fiction debut The Memory of Running and are eager to devour his next great work, Traveler, which Viking will publish on January 22, 2007. Traveler introduces Jono Riley, a fifty-something part-time actor and bartender living in Manhattan and specializing in one-hander (one-character) plays, usually performed in run-down theatres where the attendance averages only a handful of people at night. Traveler begins with a letter from Cubby D'Agastino, one of Jono's buddy's from back home informing him that his sister Marie, a girl to whom, as Jono asserts, "I have compared all women since," has died. The news propels Jono to travel back in time and revisit the old working-class East Providence neighborhood where he grew up. McLarty brilliantly weaves scenes between past and present, and takes his readers on a rich and heartrending journey through the story of Jono's coming-of-age in the early 1960s with his three best friends Cubby, Billy, and Bobby, to the shocking narrative that unfolds as he returns forty years later to uncover the cause of his first love Marie's death. 

From author, Neil Grover about Traveler:
I just finished it earlier today. I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this novel. There were various themes from this book that I took note of but one of the most important to me was the underrated power of loyalty. I was envious of Jono, Billy, Bobby, and Cubby. I wish I had childhood friends like that (I suppose we all do in a way) and even though Jono’s history is filled with such painful obstacles, I couldn’t help falling in love with his upbringing, particularly the friends who become his family. I would have to say my favorite character was Bobby because he had so much potential as a person but like many people unfortunately, he clings too fervently to the past because he did not have the childhood he deserved. My heart ached for him. But the best part about Jono is his ability to be understanding—like Bobby. I found these two characters to be remarkably similar to one another of the four friends, which made the story all the more compelling to me. I thought Jono's best line was when he stated that “listening is something that’s becoming a lost skill” when describing Randall Pound, which I truly believe is correct, particularly amid the influx of advancing technology. But I feel as though Jono underestimates himself in that regard. He is very perceptive himself and there are so many gorgeous passages in this book that affirms his ability to identify the most profound feelings a human-being can have, especially in relationship to his job as an actor. I see him essentially as the traveler like the bullet that ultimately kills Marie because his journey leads him to confronting his deepest, darkest fears and demons.

I believe this book brings back important values that are taken for granted today, particularly empathy and friendship. You have created a world in which it is as though your characters really existed and I hate saying goodbye to them…for now—I hope to reread it again as I have already read MEMORY another time around. 

© 2020 RonMclarty