In his second memoir, Tim McLaurin takes a physical and
spiritual journey down a “road less traveled” or in his case “the
river less run.” What at
first appears to be the great family trip west soon becomes an insightful
trek of sacrifice by family members, battling personal demons, remembering
past loves, mastering the writing muse, and facing cancer head-on.
During his forty-fifth summer, Tim McLaurin traveled to the
Rockies and Grand Canyon in a Winnebago with his mother, his brother
Bruce, his brother-in-law Donnie, his daughter Meghan and his son
Christopher. Mama's growing collection of rocks adds humor to the journey,
while Donnie choosing to go without food so he could spend more money for
a special jewelry box gift for his wife was touching.
The father/daughter and father/son insights are universal, yet
fresh in delivery.
Women play a role in McLaurin’s journey of
self-discovery. Katie, the
mother of his children may have still been with him, if his addiction to
alcohol hadn’t strained their marriage.
The next several women that passed through his life shared his love
for adventure and the outdoors, yet were not in for the long haul. Finally, McLaurin’s personal journey to find peace and home
leads him to Carol. He has
found his reward.
Tim McLaurin teaches writing at North Carolina State
University. His methods of
explaining the elements of fiction are rather unorthodox – he handles
snakes in class. And yes, he
has been bitten. However, the
use of snakes to explain Southern writing is profound:
You might say that some Southern writers are lunatics who will pick up rattlesnakes. But, you might also say that some Southern writers have the guts to pick up serpents, and that is one reason Southern literature is held in esteem.
Surviving alcoholism is enough for most people, but
McLaurin has also survived two battles with Cancer. The epilogue of The River Less Run was written a year
after he had completed the family trip, yet this afterthought is
awe-inspiring in the raw intensity of McLaurin’s life lessons and desire
The River Less Run is a collection of life lessons.
I don’t usually mark books, but I found a yellow highlighter in
my hand marking passages of wisdom from Tim McLaurin:
… on another water-road I gained insight into the knowledge that in this life and mortal form, I can never see beyond the curve of the river, but I can rest in the assurance that the flow will come to me, and will continue beyond me after I am gone.
© 2001 Southern Scribe Reviews, All Rights Reserved