The sportswriter by Richard Ford


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This is not an easy book to read.  It took me several months. The plot is relatively thin and it it wanders in and out of the structure throughout.  But that doesn’t stop it taking its place at the top table of American 20th century fiction along with the likes of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections,and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and No country for Old men (even if they are 21st Century), John Irving’s Owen Meaney, Cider House Rukes and A Widow for one Year and Wally Lamb’s I know this much is true..  It felt a little like The Fight by Norman Mailer in that it is an intense study of one man, Sportswriter Frank Bascombe as his life gently unravels.

It’s great because it gets under the skin of being a man, not by creating hyperbolic scenarios, but by sensitively and meaningfully deconstructing a man’s views as things go (a bit) wrong.  We deal in turns with love (and lust) the breakdown of marriage and the possibility that life can go on without it turning into a major trauma, homosexuality, the death of one’s child, writers block, companionship, the personal sense of place and worth, religion and suicide.  It does all of this without ever appearing forced.  In fact the prose is so stunningly well written, poetic in fact, that it takes ones breath away at times.

Often it can be dense and paragraphs need read over again but it’s worth the effort to consume these 350 or so pages of literary magic.

Independence Day (the second in a trilogy about the main protagonist) is apparently even better.

One thought on “The sportswriter by Richard Ford

  1. Good piece.

    Richard Ford is a giant. The Sportswriter estabished him as a big-ticket writer and in Frank Bascombe he created one of the most enduring protagonists in recent times.

    Ford spoke at the Edi Book Festival a few years back and was predictably compelling.

    Would lob in the likes of Auster, Bukowski and the mighty Hunter S Thompson (if you can call it fiction) to your roll-call of US literary greats.

    Like

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