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From the author of The Memory of Running-a beautifully crafted story of a man who returns home to discover the truth about his past

Featuring the warmth and authenticity that made The Memory of Running such a major success, Traveler wraps a beautifully written ode to friendship within a compelling mystery. Jono Riley is an aging bartender and part-time actor in Manhattan who is compelled to return to the working-class neighborhoods of East Providence, where he came of age with ...

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From the author of The Memory of Running-a beautifully crafted story of a man who returns home to discover the truth about his past

Featuring the warmth and authenticity that made The Memory of Running such a major success, Traveler wraps a beautifully written ode to friendship within a compelling mystery. Jono Riley is an aging bartender and part-time actor in Manhattan who is compelled to return to the working-class neighborhoods of East Providence, where he came of age with his three best friends in the early 1960s. Jono is drawn into an attempt to solve the mystery of several shootings that occurred back then. As the surprising truth emerges, Jono is forced to come to terms with a past that is not quite what he remembers, even as he makes new resolutions in the present.

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Editorial Reviews

The Boston Globe
Unforgettable . . . This novel has a great voice, a great plot, great suspense, a great evocation of time and place.
The Providence Journal
McLarty excels at creating a sense of place, but he is positively brilliant at creating characters. We care about these people.
Publishers Weekly

When Jono Riley receives a letter that a childhood friend, Marie, has died, the 50-something third-rate actor and bartender leaves New York to visit his hometown of Providence, R.I. His search for answers surrounding her death leads Riley on a long and winding trip through old memories to discover the person responsible. Narrator-turned-author McLarty delivers a sophomore novel that is more than just a simple mystery. The suspense doesn't drive the story but rather Riley's recounting of his adolescent years from the death of his father to his return from Vietnam. These nostalgic flashbacks of street life in Providence in the 1960s capture certain universal aspects that all listeners can appreciate. McLarty voices this first-person story with all the adeptness one would expect from an experienced narrator and author. His vocal characterizations provide added presence to many of his colorful characters and he delivers exposition with great attention to detail. He shines best with emotional displays from Jono and the other characters. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 9). (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Publishers Weekly
Struggling actor Jono Riley, the narrator of McLarty's second novel (after The Memory of Running), is getting older he's been tending bar for nearly 30 years but his roles aren't getting any better. After he receives a letter from his childhood friend, Cubby, informing him that Cubby's sister, Marie, (the first girl Jono loved) has died, Jono takes temporary leave of the bar where he works and Ren e Levesque, his girlfriend and an 18-year veteran of the New York City fire department. He goes home to East Providence, R.I., where he learns the cause of Marie's death: a bullet that was lodged in her shoulder after a freak, unsolved shooting during her childhood "traveled" and pinched an artery. Jono, with the help of retired cop Kenny Snowden, who was a young police officer when Marie was shot and has never forgotten the case, begins looking into the long-ago shooting. Friends and enemies from Jono's childhood still linger around East Providence, and the petty rivalries and deep bonds of the past take on new significance as the investigation grows in scope and points to an unlikely suspect. Frequent flashbacks add color to Jono's adult insecurities, and McLarty's prose remains convincing without crossing into treacly turf. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Successful actor McLarty launches a second novel about a not-so-successful actor in Manhattan who travels home to confront a few mysteries when he hears that his first love has died. With a six-city tour; online readers' guide. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal

Adult/High School
Jono Riley, a bartender and sometime actor, looks back on a series of childhood events that have mystified him over the years. As a means of self-preservation, he has scrupulously avoided introspection most of his adult life. However, he has just received a letter from a close childhood friend, Cubby D'Agostino, letting him know that Cubby's sister, Marie, has passed away unexpectedly. Forty years earlier, 12-year-old Marie was 11-year-old Jono's first love. She was also the central figure of a mystery that has subliminally haunted him ever since. Now, Cubby's letter triggers memories that Jono can no longer ignore. As the story marches toward its inevitable conclusion, readers begin to see why Jono has buried many of his childhood recollections. McLarty skillfully uses alternating chapters to flash back and then propel the story forward as he builds suspense and gradually unravels the mystery that Jono wants very much to forget. The protagonist is a very human character who must deal with issues of loyalty, friendship, and ambiguity.
—Catherine GilbrideCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Boyhood friendships and dreams are reshaped by mysteries that resonate for decades in the veteran character actor's flavorful successor to his well-received debut novel, The Memory of Running (2005). Like that novel, this one takes the form of a journey-undertaken by middle-aged bartender and working actor Jono Riley, its narrator. When old friend Cubby D'Agostino notifies Jono of the death of his sister Marie (whom Jono had not so secretly loved when they were kids), a trip back to his old East Providence, R.I., neighborhood coincides with a flood of sometimes wistful, but often painful, memories-as well as unanswered questions. Who fired the shotgun, wounding 12-year-old Marie, who lived 40 years with a bullet in her back, until it "traveled," finally killing her? What is the secret that made Jono's "Portagee" buddy Bobby Fontes old before his time, and deepened the vulnerability none of his old friends had ever sensed? The book feels somewhat muddled early on, as McLarty awkwardly juggles interlocking flashbacks, but the story quickly settles into a lucid juxtaposition of past and present. There's some charmingly funny stuff about adolescent camaraderie and mischief, and Jono's wry, salty voice is a pleasure to listen to (even when McLarty regales us with rather too many theater-related anecdotes). Nice supporting characters, too, including Jono's tenderhearted tough-broad girlfriend Renee, Bobby's pathetic drunken inamorata Colleen, brutal neighborhood bully "Poochy" Ponserelli and 390-pound bouncer (and bibliophile) Randall Pound. Contains too many echoes of films (from The Deer Hunter to Mean Streets to Sleepers), including particularly significant debts to Dennis Lehane's MysticRiver and the Clint Eastwood adaptation thereof. Still, a lively, big-hearted tale, drenched in gritty working-class ambience. Agent: Jeff Kleinman/Graybill & English Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143112884
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/25/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 701,782
  • Product dimensions: 4.96 (w) x 8.16 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron McLarty is an award-winning actor and playwright best known for his appearances on television series, including Law & Order, Sex and the City, The Practice, and Judging Amy. He has appeared in films and on the stage, where he has directed many of his own plays.


Hear the name Stephen King and the likely images that spring to mind are those of vampires, blood-soaked prom queens, and killer St. Bernards. However, for Ron McLarty, Stephen King was more guardian angel than conjurer of terror. McLarty had been a character actor and struggling writer for countless years before the master of the macabre helped him publish his first novel at the age of 58.

Before the publication of The Memory of Running, McLarty was best known as a familiar face on television, holding down regular roles on Spencer: For Hire and Steven Bochco's short-lived prime-time experiment Cop Rock, as well as making appearances on everything from Sex and the City to Law and Order. He also became a regular fixture on the books-on-tape circuit, recording readings of more than 100 books by his own calculations. Meanwhile, McLarty had aspirations to make his way into the other end of the publishing world, composing an increasingly weighty body of unpublished work.

Still having little luck actually getting any of his work in print, McLarty managed to cajole a small Internet-only company called Recorded Books to release a book-on-tape version of his 1988 novel The Memory of Running. Inspired by the death of McLarty's parents following a car accident, The Memory of Running is a funny, moving, grim yarn about an overweight drunken couch potato named Smithson "Smithy" Ide who becomes reengaged in the world during a cross-country bike ride in the wake of the death of his parents and his emotionally-troubled sister.

As far as McLarty was concerned, that was the end of the line for The Memory of Running. Discouraged after years of rejection, he even visited a Screen Actor's Guild appointed psychiatrist to get help with his writing addiction. Still the muse refused to unhand him, and he continued producing new material in vain.

Some time later, Ron McLarty auditioned for a role in the miniseries Kingdom Hospital, Stephen King's U.S. adaptation of Lars von Trier's Danish cult-classic TV series Riget. According to McLarty in his interview with Meet the Writers, the audition was a disaster. "I did the worst audition in the world at the ABC studios. I mean, an actor knows when he stinks, and I was awful," he recalls. "I was trying to run out of the room, and Stephen King stands up and he says, ‘Are you Ron McLarty the novelist?'" At that point, King was only familiar with McLarty by name, having seen it in a catalog while recovering from his own well-publicized collision with a car in 1999. McLarty expeditiously rectified the situation, though. He raced to Recorded Books, dug up a copy of The Memory of Running, and mailed it off to the famed writer.

Next thing McLarty knew, Stephen King included The Memory of Running in a list of "The Best Books You Cannot Read" in an article in Entertainment Weekly. Then came the flood. A publishers bidding war for the rights to the novel ensued, and McLarty signed with Viking for over two-million dollars. Upon its publication in December of 2005, The Memory of Running has deservedly garnered more than its share of glowing notices. The School Library Journal deemed it "a great first novel" and Publisher's Weeky described it as "funny, poignant..." Now his darkly comic tale of self-discovery is being made into a motion picture by esteemed director Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), McLarty himself having penned the screenplay. He also has a second novel on the way.

In spite of McLarty's recent magnificent success, he still has not lost the cynical edge that gave birth to his gloomy debut novel. Though he remains unfailingly thankful for the opportunity afforded him by King's endorsement in Entertainment Weekly, he still has trouble viewing the glass as half-full. "Although I do believe it took kismet for my work to get any credibility, it's important that I express how hard I labored over this novel. I learned from a myriad of failures. I found my voice, lost it and found it again. Sometimes, frankly, it's discouraging to think that this and subsequent work will be viewed by many as luck, as if I sat down one day, popped a beer and scribbled it down... I still have 37 years of the whipped dog in me."

Good To Know

According to McLarty, he has scribed a total of 44 plays and 10 novels. All of his work begins with a poem, which he then develops into a more substantial piece.

McLarty's Stephen King connection does not end with King's recommendation in Entertainment Weekly. He was also the voice chosen to read the book-on-tape version of King's Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 14, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Providence, Rhode Island
    1. Education:
      Rhode Island College
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2008

    terrific read

    I just loved this book!! Great character development, wonderful story. Really terrific read. Give it a try you won't be dissapointed.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2007

    A Delightful Surprise

    I ended up reading this book as a suggestion from my library, so pleased I took their advice. This was a good summer read. I liked the characters and how they unfolded as the story progressed. I also liked how the author used flashbacks to define the present. Looking forward to reading the authors previous book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2007

    A reviewer

    At the library for Memory of Running - it wasn't in - picked up this instead - started reading at 4:00 had it finished by midnight! Couldn't put it down - Can't wait to read 'Memory'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2007


    I couldn't put this book down. It had me from the first page. I could just feel the angst of the main character Jono and his struggles with his past. What a beautiful character Mr. McLarty gave us to enjoy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2007

    Reviewer from RI

    I liked this book more than In Memory of Running. I'm from RI and am very familiar with the locations mentioned in this book. While I liked the story, I really loved the flashbacks with Cubby, Bobby and Billy. I remember the whole mondo phase. I really didn't love the ending. It just seemed too abrupt. Almost like the author wanted to tie things up too quickly. This was the only downfall.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2007

    a reader

    a mere shadow of 'Memory of Running'. When I saw this book I grabbed it without even reading the inside flap or the back thinking how can this possibly be bad. the worst part was the dialogue, I think...sounded like 7th graders talking..

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    Posted March 8, 2010

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