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Art in America

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  289 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Withis firstwo novels, Ron McLarty won acclaim for fashioning authentic characters that hook readers from the first page. With "Art in America," McLarty has invented another unforgettable protagonist in one failed writer, Steven Kearney. Hired by the Creedemore Historical Society to write and direct a play about the rural Southern Colorado town, he unwittingly stumbles int ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published July 3rd 2008 by Penguin Books
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Kathie Giorgio
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Be ready to settle in and watch a master juggler at work. Art In America has storyline after storyline after storyline. As you read, you can feel the storylines starting to cross and converge, until the author manages to pull them all together at a completely satisfying end.

I don't think it's possible for McLarty to write simple. I picture him at his desk with five different computer screens. The screen in the middle: the overall story. The two to either side: the storylines. McLarty's sweeping
Sep 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining. Steven Kearney has written thousands of pages of poetry, short stories and some of the longest novels in the history of the form. None of them were published. So, when the small town of Creedemore, CO asks him to write a play for their historical society's extravaganza, he moves from New York to Colorado.
Unfortunately, his arrival coincides with regional political/environmental upheaval and while he struggles with his own doubts about his artistic abilities, he meets a woman h
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
I love Ron McLarty, and I enjoyed this book, but as some other reviewers mentioned, the amount of profanity was, I thought, excessive, and I was getting VERY tired of one particular character (the dead one) to the point that several times I really wanted to just stop listening (I listened to the audio book version). It made me feel very frustrated.

Ron McLarty does a great job of reading his own work, and I love the "every man" characters that he creates. I just think this one went a little too f
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: light-reading
I thoroughly enjoyed McLarty's first book, Memory of Running, and wanted to explore him again. This one, frankly, was not as good, but it is good enough to finish.

It is about an East Coast struggling playwrite who has an opportunity to be an artist in residence in a small Colorado town to write a play of its history. He steps into a major conflict, one so big it makes national news. Can art bring the divided town back together again?

At times this book grated on my nerves-- its way of romanticiz
Jon Scott
I was all over the place with this book. At first I didn't like it, then I did, and then I didn't again. If nothing else, my experience tells me Art in America is too long.
McLarty proved himself to be a capable writer and storyteller. Somehow, I felt like his plot was part of his shortcomings. He had events which worked well together to tell a story, but they felt bulky and on the frontline of the novel. To use a sports analogy, I like a game where the refs remain in the background and let the a
Mar 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had listened to two audioooks by this author and really liked both. The author narrated the books himself, and I thought he had a very pleasing voice and reading style. I had wondered if that made me enjoy the books more than if I had read them myself. After reading this book for myself, I can say that I still really enjoyed it, even if it might have been slightly more enjoyable having the author read it to me.

The book starts with the quirky lead character, un-produced playwrite Stephen Kearne
Nancy Baker
Art in America carried a few too many pastel colors for me. I read the Memory of Running (or rather listened to it via audio books) and fell in love with it. I purchased Art in America because I wanted to read more by this author to see if his same creative writing style remained but it fell a bit short for me. Art in America is story of Steven Kearney who is an overweight man who doubts his abilities, talents and self worth (hmmm, sounds like Memory of Running). He takes on a momentous job of w ...more
Tom Taylor
The Memory of Running and Traveller were two books I embraced and even bought for others to read. I thought that McClarty's fine characterizations and easy going style of prose made for wonderful reading. But I am sorry to say this book was a chaotic mess, filled with too many sub-plots, half developed characters and a terf war going on that I found just too hard to follow. I dould not keep the characters straight, and quite honestly after reading 174 pages had so little interest in the plot, th ...more
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I thoroughly enjoyed this new book by Ron McLarty. He creates wonderful characters, and in the end we rejoice in their triumphs. Artists and sheriffs, environmentalists and landowners, strong women and young punks, and in the middle of them all is playwright Steven Kearney, a stranger to this town whose work brings everyone together in a colossal outdoor theatre event. I definitely recommend it!

My favorite quote:
What is it, Steven Kearney wondered as they crawled under the covers, that ladles su
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
What a story! What a writer! What an odd title for a book about a failed New York author/playwright transplanted to Colorado in the midst of a range war. Although I understand the significance of the title to a story about a playwright, a muralist, a director and some 70 actors performing an epic about the founding of a small town, it does not come close to encompassing the sprawling and hilarious nature of the story. Among those we meet are Sheriff Petey Myers, formerly of the Boston PD, who co ...more
Sue Daniels
I started this book once before and put in down because of the great amount of swearing. This time I stuck with it and got pass to find a sweet and funny sentimental story. The nominal hero is a writer who hasn't never been published who is hired by the Historical Society of a small town out West
to write and produce a play presenting the town's history. But several characters, among them the Sherrif and a Rancher, are fully developedand their story line was as important to me as that of the writ
Wanted to like this. COMPLETELY unpublished wannabe authour (he's so wrapped up in his work he dosn't notice the furniture's missing & his girlfriend is leaving him) suddenly has a dream job fall into his lap - write a history play for a small Western town's anniversary. Only problem - the town's filled with gun toting nuts and hippies, and is on the verge of civil war...
I just didn't find the characters or story really interesting. McLarty draws very good portraits of these people.(He's
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
What a fun book. Ron McLarty is a clever guy and a great narrator. Having read another of his books, I looked forward to this audio version - he narrates himself which is always enjoyable.

A charming group of characters brought together into a beautiful tapestry - or should I say mural. Quirky? Yes, but so what. We all know at least two of these people - probably more, if we are honest. I really like how McLarty brought them all together in a situation that could actually happen. Thinking about t
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is unusual. The characters are unusual, the plot is unusual, the setting is unusual. Sometimes that's good and sometimes that's bad. There are so many characters in this book it is a little difficult to keep them straight at first, but once they settle into their roles it's not as bad. I started out really liking the book, and then it started to drag, but then it picked up in the last 100 pages or so. To me, the supporting characters in the book are much more interesting than the main ...more
Martha Grace
May 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steve Kearney is not a success in the traditional sense of the word. He has written many plays and books and poetry but nothing has been published. His live-in girlfriend moved out and cleaned out his bank account too, so he is staying with a friend, a long term friend who loves theater and happens to be lesbian.
Then out of the blue, Steve gets an invitation to be playwright in residence in Creedemore, Colorado and write a play about the history of the town. The local fine historical society hop
Nov 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sections of this book were thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking. Its goal seemed to be to look at how art (in different forms) can influence the average american or reflect the average american's experience.
While reading the less dynamic portions of the novel, it's difficult not to imagine how much more developed some of the characters and stories may be in the author's mind than how they appeared on the pages of his book. He obviously loves these characters, and it appeared that he wante
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I REALLY like Ron McLarty's work. This story is truly amazing. A struggling writer finally gets a break, to write a pageant play to help a mining town in Colorado celebrate its history and diversity, but it requires his leaving the homeless existence that has devolved to him in New York City. The characters are all interestingly portrayed, the dialog is always unfailingly human, and McLarty is not a ham-fisted plot manipulator by any means. This book is even better than his first--The Memory of ...more
Nov 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Sometimes I get the feeling that an author really enjoys the world he created, and wants to keep hanging out in it. This was one of those times. The book has a lot of secondary characters and subplots, but while all of them are lively, I started to feel like some were a little...indulgent. Like maybe they should have been cut. Didn't stop me loving the whole book, though.

The story is basically a comedy, with fistfights, cowboys, mid life crises, spiritual crises, land-use battles, courtroom the
I loved this story, but I had a lot of problems with the execution of the book. McLarty had a habit (bad? In my opinion yes and I hate this when any author does it) of having a running conversation but giving not attribution to which character is speaking. Maybe it's just me but I have a hard time with that. Not to mention a main character (the sherrif)who was always talking to his dead partner and giving way to much backstory on incidental characters. I just think the story would have moved mor ...more
Linda Campbell
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
omg i loved this. it's funny, sprawling but not too big (322pp), There's an
odd huge collection of characters are so well-drawn that you visualize all of them easily. Old ladies, college girls, a tiny skinny old man in his 90s, a 48 year old man (protag) who writes writes writes. Takes place mostly in Colorado. I would love to see a movie of it, with Philip Seymour Hoffmann, Isabella Rossellini, and if we could go back in time that funny little old lady from golden girls. It's a great
Becky Motew
A big romp of a book galloping from NYC, a place where Steven Kearney fails every day in every little thing to Creedemore, Colorado, a place where he succeeds most days in most things. He falls in love, he writes a play.

All the marriages are good ones.

The bad guys are really stupid and bad.

The play at the end, surely the most organized, easily produced, and meaningfully wonderful local production I have ever heard of, represents what I imagine RM wants the book to be, a transcendent experience
Michael Young
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McLarty's stories are amazing!

He doesn't fall back and reuse the stuff he wrote last time. He doesn't bore you with technical acronyms or minute details for filler or to prove he knows his subject.

What he does is flesh out real characters in stories that almost have to be true - although they'er not. (As far as I know.)

He is at his best in this story of an artist loose in the middle of America. The supporting characters and subplots are told so well!

McLarty is not trendy. I believe we'll be read
David Hill
May 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My third McLarty book. WOW! I would caution those who cannot go to sleep without knowing what happens in a story, to start reading this early in the morning. McLarty once again takes someone from the East Coast out west. He weaves a magnificent story with the Rockies as a backdrop. His rescue of the lead character is magnificent. How can a hero still be a hero with all of their mental handicaps? Read the book to find that answer. This book is definitely in my top ten reads! The title is deceivin ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful, fun to read story that begins in New York City and moves to Creedmore Colorado. The tale surrounds Steven - in his late 40s - writes plays, essays, novels and has never been published. He supports him self in construction. His work comes to the attention of the historical society of Creedmore and they offer him a salary and a room to write a play about their town. When he gets there, all hell breaks out - not from anything he has done. He finds love, purpose and lots of adventure in ...more
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A middle-aged failed writer has hit bottom. Serendipitously, he gets a letter from someone in a small Colorado town who wants him to write and produce a pageant for an upcoming civic celebration to smooth over area conflicts over land rights. Having nothing better to do, he takes the job. The reader expects him and everyone else to be caricatures and stereotypes, but they are not. The writer finds confidence, acceptance, and love, the townspeople are sincere and kind, and the only caricatures ar ...more
Feb 25, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Art in America by Ron McLarty follows unpublished author, Steven Kearney, from New York City to the wild West when he is hired by the Creedmore, Colorado, Historical Society to write a play celebrating the town’s history. Meanwhile, a land-rights dispute erupts, pitting cowboys against libertarians and bringing out the worst behavior, as well as the comic aspects, in both groups. Another former Easterner, Sheriff Petey Myers, has to keep the peace off-stage, while Stephen and friends struggle to ...more
Mar 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Perhaps that he is a college contemporary at Rhode Island College or simply that his sense of humor is a bit off the wall as is the case with many of us herein RI, but I find his books to be extremely humorous and entertaining. This unlike his other two works is not based in Rhode Island, but very entertaining. Some of his characters can be a bit absurd but if you think hard enough you know someone not too dissimilar.

I like his work and I think it is worth the read. Not an overwhelming read, qui
J.p. Amy
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book peeks inside the mind of the individual that travels in a pack and questions what happens when one attempts to think for themselves as opposed to allowing themselves to be sucked into the "groupthink". It is a wonderful adventure watching the characters fall into the role of their lives which are both private and public; the use of a civic play was a wonderful vehicle to use to arrive there. Laugh out loud funny, especially the river rafting episode!
Karen Zelano
A very different sort of story, which takes a would-be writer from NY and transplants him to the West to write for a community theater event. His own story weaves into the political plot happening in town and the history he is reselling in the play. It's very interesting, but not at all a page-turner. The writing is casual and there are a few too many characters. I've read two other books by this author, this was my least favorite.
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Donna by: Roxanne Magaw
This was recommended to me, and I didn't think I would like it. It begins in New York with typical arty characters acting shallow and self-absorbed, but as the story moved to the West and the characters developed, I began to see the humor and the warmth of the work. Give this one a chance; it's completely worth it!
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A native of East Providence, RI—Ron McLarty is a veteran actor, accomplished playwright, prolific audiobook narrator and acclaimed novelist.

McLarty is also noted for his body of work as one of the country’s leading audiobook narrators having done over 100 titles including the narration of books authored by Stephen King, Danielle Steel, Richard Russo, Elmore Leonard, Ed McBain, David Baldacci and S