Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
A brilliant new work that returns Richard Ford to the hallowed territory that sealed his reputation as an American master: the world of Frank Bascombe, and the landscape of his celebrated novels The Sportswriter, the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner winning Independence Day , and The Lay of the Land.Read more...
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Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
A brilliant new work that returns Richard Ford to the hallowed territory that sealed his reputation as an American master: the world of Frank Bascombe, and the landscape of his celebrated novels The Sportswriter, the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner winning Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land.
In his trio of world-acclaimed novels portraying the life of an entire American generation, Richard Ford has imagined one of the most indelible and widely discussed characters in modern literature, Frank Bascombe. Through Bascombe--protean, funny, profane, wise, often inappropriate--we've witnessed the aspirations, sorrows, longings, achievements and failings of an American life in the twilight of the twentieth century.
Now, in Let Me Be Frank with You, Ford reinvents Bascombe in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In four richly luminous narratives, Bascombe (and Ford) attempts to reconcile, interpret and console a world undone by calamity. It is a moving and wondrous and extremely funny odyssey through the America we live in at this moment. Ford is here again working with the maturity and brilliance of a writer at the absolute height of his powers.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-08-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Frank Bascombe, the protagonist of The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land, continues to reflect on the meaning of existence in these four absorbing, funny, and often profound novellas. The collection is set in New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, in the weeks leading up to Christmas 2012. Frank considers the evanescence of life as he travels to the site of his former home on the shore; has an unsettling experience with a black woman whose family once lived in his present home in fictional Haddam; visits his prickly ex-wife, who is suffering from Parkinson’s, in an extended-care institution; and meets a dying former friend. At 68, Frank feels “old”; his bout with prostate cancer has convinced him that he’s in the “Default Period of life.” Intimations of mortality (“the bad closing in”) permeate his musings, recounted in an unadorned, profane, vernacular that conveys his witty, cynical voice. Frank’s cranky comments and free-flowing meditations about current social and political events are slyly juxtaposed with references to Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Trollope, Emerson, Milton, and others. Despite Frank’s dyspeptic outlook, Ford packs in a surprising amount of affirmation and redemption. Readers who met Frank in Ford’s earlier novels will quickly reconnect with his indelible personality. (Nov.)
Frank Bascombe gets his final say
With the publication of The Lay of the Land in 2006, it appeared Richard Ford had written the final chapter in the story of Frank Bascombe, one that began with The Sportswriter and continued with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Independence Day. Happily, Ford has given readers one last chance to enjoy his knowing, wry protagonist.
Like each of the novels in the Bascombe trilogy, the four long stories that make up Let Me Be Frank with You are set on the eve of a holiday, in this case Christmas 2012. Sixty-eight-year-old Frank has retired from selling real estate, but in the first story, “I’m Here,” which sets the mostly elegiac tone of the book, he returns to the home he once owned on the New Jersey shore to witness firsthand the devastation (“Nagasaki-by-the-sea”) wrought by Hurricane Sandy.
In the other stories, he has an unsettling encounter with a woman who once lived in the house he and his wife occupy, visits his ex-wife in the “state-of-the-art, staged-care facility” where she’s moved after her diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, and pays a call on a dying friend. Each of these stories is told in Frank’s candid, confiding voice, one Ford has so artfully channeled and kept fresh through the nearly 1,600 pages that comprise the four books.
For all the razor sharpness of his observations, Frank is no misanthrope. He spends some of his time greeting soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and reads novels to the blind. He’s a survivor who’s overcome prostate cancer and the loss of one son in childhood. Though his wit tends toward the acerbic, there’s an undercurrent of gratitude for everything that’s come to him in a life he feels he’s lived about as well as one man can. That’s no small accomplishment, Ford seems to say. Anyone who’s followed that life since it first appeared on the page can only feel a similar gratitude to Ford for having created it.