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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Independence Day

Book #36 on my 2006 reading list was Richard Ford's Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award winning Independence Day.

Although you might be thinking "Oh, Indepedence Day. You mean that terrible movie with Will Smith and the aliens?", I'm not gonna kid you you're not even close (and you'd probably say awesome instead of terrible). This Independence Day is the sequel to Ford's previous work The Sportwriter. Ford does look a little like Tommy Lee Jones though.

Anyways, in this novel Ford follows ex-sportswriter now real estate agent Frank Bascombe through a Fourth of July weekend. Over the holiday, the now divorced and middle-age Bascombe begins to break out of what he has deemed his 'Existence Period' into a whole new epoch in his life. We get to meet Bascombe's ex-wife, his possibly crazy son, his new lover, a husband and wife struggling to come to terms with the price of new homes, the propieter of Bascombe's hot dog stand, and a large ensemble of other crazy characters. Expanding the three days out into 450+ pages, Ford digs deep into Bascombe's psyche creating a character study whose level of detail is reminiscent of other great literary characters such as Bellow's Henderson (whom this site was named after).

Although I really enjoyed Ford's writing style, it took me awhile to really get into this one, fortunately it's one of those novels that grows on you the further and further you get into it, so by the end I didn't want to put it down. By sheer coincidence it looks like I managed to read this one just in time, as Ford has just published a new novel titled The Lay of the Land which picks up as the third installment of the Frank Bascombe story. Ford will be in town reading from the new novel on October 25th at Town Hall.

Interview in Salon

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1 Comments:

Blogger The Shelver, University Book Store said...

Stop by the blog for an interview with Ryan.

2:24 PM

 

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