I loved this book, my second McLarty novel. I read his The Memory of Running a few years ago, and I loved the narrative voice of the main character Smitty in his writing. Traveler is no different. Jono Riley is a semi-failed actor on off-off-Broadway who is called home to East Providence, Rhode Island after the death of his childhood friend/first love. While there he discovers clues about several other shootings in the area from years ago, and tries to find some meaning.
The main character in this book isn’t Jono; it’s Rhode Island itself. McLarty writes RI so clearly, so powerfully, that the setting plays a main role. Jono returns to his childhood haunts around East Providence and Pawtucket, all the places that are in my childhood. As I read through, I wanted a grinder, a cabinet, and clam cakes on a trip to Rocky Point wicked bad.
If I didn’t have the roots in Rhode Island, I’m not sure that this novel would have had the impact on me that it did. By the time Jono’s mystery wraps-up (pretty hokey, in my opinion), I found that I was thinking about my childhood, my lingering history, my own demons from a small state with a tight grip.