For me, The Memory of Running (2004) by Ron McLarty was slow to start. I was beginning to wonder if I would connect with Smithson Ide, known by most as Smithy.
Smithy did not seem particularly likeable at first. He works in a toy factory, drinks way too much, is a slob, eats junk food, and smokes. He once was tall, thin, and a runner. Now it is 1990, he is 43 years old, 279 pounds with a 46” waist.
Smithy has survived the worst week of his life. His parents have died as a result of a car wreck while returning from vacation. As if that is not enough as Smithy is going through his parent’s mail, he opens an official looking letter from Los Angles. He learns his sister Bethany has died.
At this point I almost put the book down. But because all this happens within the first 50+ pages, it just seemed it had more hold more. And, it did!
In flashbacks back to 1958 and when he received his Raleigh bike, Smithy’s time on earth begins to come to life for the reader. From there it is on to the 60s when he somehow survived Vietnam and came home with the scars of 21 bullet holes. His beautiful, yet very troubled sister Bethany, plays a very important part in what haunts Smithy at 43.
That Raleigh bike and Smithy pair up after all those years of neglect to head west. You will travel with Smithy from Providence to Los Angles. And, along the way you meet up with all sorts of colorful characters just as Smithy did. His first was Father Benny and the last was Philip Wolsey, a truck driver with several others in between. The details of Smithy’s life come to you through his conversations along the way plus flashbacks to his life in Providence.
One character I overlooked as I read, was his childhood friend and neighbor Norma. He always saw her as bothersome and annoying. I too found her bothersome and annoying. I wish I had given her more thought early on in my reading.
A Memory of Running is all about rediscovering life. A coming of age at 43. As Smithy did, you will feel his pain, enjoy the humor he finds along the way, and learn it is never too late.
If you are up for a psychological thriller, check out The Woman in Cabin 10 (2016) by Ruth Ware it might be just for you.
This rather dark, frightening especially if you do not like to be in confined places tale opens with Lo Blacklock having her sleep, after a night of much drinking, disturbed by her cat Delilah pawing her face. As it turns out Delilah knew something was wrong.
Lo grabbed the cat, opened her bedroom door only to discover a man standing there. He was wearing a hoodie, along with a bandana to cover most of his face, and latex gloves on his hands. One more thing. Lo noticed he had her expensive handbag. That meant he also had her phone. The intruder slammed the door in her face.
By stumbling over to her neighbors, Lo was able to contact the police. Luckily her computer had not been taken. It was afternoon before she realized she had not contacted her employer. She is a writer for a travel magazine and has just been given a juicy assignment. She is to board and spend a week on the boutique luxury liner Aurora as it travels through the fjords of Norway on its maiden voyage.
It is an assignment of a lifetime in Lo’s mind. Just what she needs to prove herself. Writing a fluff piece to gain advertising for the magazine and gain that much wished for promotion.
Lo was a bit surprised to find the Aurora to be of much smaller scale than she had imagined. But once on board, “…they had crammed enough bling for a vessel ten times the size.” After being greeted as she boarded, Lo was led off to Cabin 9, the Linnaeus Suite, with her glass of champagne in hand.
The first night on board Lo is awakened by a noise and is sure that the woman in cabin 10 has been thrown overboard. Lo alerts those in charge only to find out all passengers are accounted for. The trip continues on its way.
Lo cannot give up on what she had heard and seen. She tries to convince others that something is terribly wrong but to no avail. She is starting to believe that maybe, just maybe, she is wrong. Maybe she has been drinking too much or her anxiety attacks are leading her thoughts down the wrong path.
I cannot give away too much of what happens. I will say Lo never really won me over or even gained my sympathy. Even with all the twists and turns and surprises woven throughout this thriller, I truly think I may enjoy the movie version more than the written word. But I will let you be the judge of that.