We gave it an A-
”A person doesn’t get over a family.” This purely phrased truism is at the core of Ron McLarty’s captivating novel, The Memory of Running and the family is that of Smithson ”Smithy” Ide, an alcoholic, overweight Vietnam vet who loses his parents and lovely, psychosis-plagued sister in just one week. A startlingly funny twist of fate sends Smithy riding across the U.S. on his childhood bike, McLarty tracing Smithy’s history back as he pedals forward. The people Smithy meets sometimes drift into cliché — the AIDS-ravaged gay florist, the wizened black truck driver — and you wonder why total strangers would so quickly spill their life stories to such a middling jumble of a man. But then McLarty unspools passage after passage of devastating grace and melancholy, and his taciturn hero hooks himself to your heart.