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Ron McLarty is a successful actor and audio book narrator. He lives in the USA and this is his first novel. He has a website at www.ronmclarty.com
Stuck without a publisher for this first novel, actor McLarty did an audio original with Recorded Books that Stephen King raved about in Entertainment Weekly. But how many people know that it was actually librarian Tia Maggio (Middleburg PL, VA) who brought the book to the attention of agent Jeff Kleinman? Maggio fell in love with the tape, used it in a book group (some listeners cried), and even got the author to come and read from the manuscript. "The characters are all so real," she explains of the book's appeal. Eventually, the book was sold to Viking for $2 million, with a Warner's deal and the sale of rights to 12 countries quickly following. Not bad for the gentle tale of washed-up Smithy Ide, who takes an impulsive bike ride across America to search for his sister. A 15-city author tour. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
'Vastly enjoyable, the story of this epic road trip is leavened by a strong vein of black humour' DAILY MAIL ** 'It is simply a good story well written' TIMES ** 'Endearing but thankfully never folksy story of small-town America' GUARDIAN ** 'Pitch-perfect evocation of place' TLS ** 'Charming' Mirror ** 'A must-read book' Grazia ** 'Riders who hop onto the back of Smithy Ide's bike and ride America with him will cherish the journey. I loved this sad, funny, life- affirming novel' Wally Lamb
Smithy Ide is a really nice guy. But he's also an overweight, friendless, womanless, hard-drinking, 43-year-old self-professed loser with a breast fetish and a dead-end job, given to stammering "I just don't know" in life's confusing moments. When Smithy's entire family dies, he embarks on a transcontinental bicycle trip to recover his sister's body and rediscover what it means to live. Along the way, he flashes back to his past and the hardships of his beloved sister's schizophrenia, while his dejection encourages strangers to share their life stories. The road redeems the innocent Smithy: he loses weight; rescues a child from a blizzard; rebuffs the advances of a nubile, "apple-breasted" co-cyclist after seeing a vision of his dead sister; and nurtures a telephone romance with a paraplegic family friend as he processes his rocky past. McLarty, a playwright and television actor, propels the plot with glib mayhem-including three tragic car accidents in 31 pages and a death by lightning bolt-and a lot of bighearted and warm but faintly mournful humor. It's a funny, poignant, slightly gawky debut that aims, like its protagonist, to please-and usually does. Agent, Jeff Kleinman at Graybill & English. (Jan. 3) Forecast: Stephen King hailed this as "the best book you can't read" (it was an audiobook only) in a now-famous 2003 Entertainment Weekly column; a 15-city tour and McLarty's certain stage presence should make plenty of folks sit up and take notice. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-This is a great first novel. Smithson Ide, 43, is a heavy drinker who weighs 279 lbs. As a teen, his beautiful sister slowly descended into mental illness. The family got him a Raleigh bicycle so that he might find Bethany more quickly when she ran away. Eventually, she disappeared, and the Ides couldn't seem to go on. Smithy begins his story as he learns that his parents have been seriously injured in an accident. At their wake, he finds a letter that states that Bethany's body is in a morgue in Los Angeles. Drunk, dressed in a suit, and with no money, Smithy gets on his bike and begins to pedal west. Readers are hooked once his odyssey begins. He meets unique characters and experiences many perils, and is supported throughout his trip by phone conversations with his neighbor, who has always loved him. The real story, though, is about Smithy's visceral response to the plight of his family, whose dignity has been beaten down because of their years of struggle. In the tradition of literary heroes, Smithy Ide rallies as he rides west to rescue his sister one last time. McLarty's writing is notable for its juxtaposition of humor and heartbreak. Smithy's matter-of-fact tone belies the often surprising and laugh-out-loud situations that he unwittingly falls into. At the same time, readers get a sense of his gentleness as he tries to cope with a world that for the most part treats him badly or ignores him.-Catherine Gilbride, Farifax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.