by Ron McLarty
12.5 hours (Recorded Books)
While in the midst of the torture of shingles, I have found real pleasure in listening to books on CDs, in particular THE MEMORY OF RUNNING by Ron McLarty. This novel fits into the hero’s journey category, almost.
The protagonist is Smithson Ide, a simple, almost simple-minded 43-year-old man whose parents were killed in a car accident and who thereafter discovers his missing schizophrenic sister, Bethany, has died as a homeless person in LA. The girl next door, Norma, has loved Smithson from the age of 4 or 5. She was a cheery, wonderful kid, but four years younger than Smithson. As a result, he has never responded to her adoration and love.
In the opening of the novel, Smithson has become a drunk, an overeater of junk food, is 279 pounds, is unmarried, and is floating unhappily through life as a supervisor in a factory that makes GI Joe figures.
At the age of 10, Norma, the happy girl next door was hit by a truck or car and is doomed to spend the rest of her life in a wheel chair. Although she is bitter about her circumstances, she has created a career for herself as a draftsman working at home on architectural and artistic projects. Norma never relents in her pursuit of Smithson, loving him even though he has grown into a grossly-overweight loser and despite his continued indifference towards her.
Smithson sets out on a cross-country journey, a quest to collect his beloved sister’s body from a morgue/funeral home in Venice Beach, Calif. The trip, made possible in part by Norma, transforms Smithson from a slob into a real person.