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Monday, November 30, 2020

My Richard Ford Path

Of the many fine authors I've become newly familiar with since stopping full time work in 2010, a handful really stand out. I'm so grateful my reading path over the last ten years led me to Richard Ford.

Reflections From The Bell Curve: In The Midst Of Solitude

After first finishing Ford's memoir - Between Them - a short time later I made my way to The Sportswriter, the first of his four novels featuring Frank Bascombe. The entry in my book journal for that novel ended up being the longest one I've ever written largely because as I wrote, my appreciation for what Ford had accomplished kept deepening. His prose is so stripped down it sometimes feels as though he's reciting his straightforward stories. His magic is disarming and difficult to describe but few pages ever go by without a hard-earned, understated insight. And his dialogue has the ring of truth. There is more Frank Bascombe in my reading future.

Canada was the latest stop on my Richard Ford path. "First I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later."  Those sentences - the first two in Ford's 2012 novel - personify how matter-of-fact this modern-day master is. No fireworks, no silly surprises, no showy metaphors. Over the 400+ pages of Canada, Ford keeps the flame low, expertly maintaining the sense of quotidian doom clearly telegraphed by the novel's opening. It's extraordinary. 

Good literature has given me many gifts. Foremost among those gifts is a heightened understanding of people. Richard Ford's work has significantly enhanced that understanding.      

3 comments:

  1. Good morning, Pat, and welcome to December. Not too much of a comment this time as I was not, or am not, familiar with Mr. Fords work. However, as I prepare for the winter hibernation - which for 2020 is just a nicer way to phrase Social Distancing and Staying Safe - I will take a look at his books and possibly add them to my reading list. Would you suggest starting with 'The Sportswriter'?
    Be well .. Stay Safe

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    1. RRGRMG; Thanks for comment and inquiry about Richard Ford. I would actually suggest starting with his memoir "Between Them", which is quite a bit shorter than most of Ford's novels but equally excellent. If you want a bit more about that book, click on the link that follows the first paragraph above ("In the Midst of Solitude"); it will take you to a brief post I wrote about just Ford's memoir. If you do end up reading it - during winter hibernation or otherwise - let's schedule a time to talk on the phone soon after you finish it so I can hear your reaction. We can make those arrangements via e-mail.

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  2. Based on this great blog entry I guess I need to try again with Ford. Put it on the list!

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