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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Richard Ford - Independence Day

Wow, it's been awhile. I didn't remember which book I had finished last until I looked over the blog just before typing this post. I have taken a little break from reading all things pulitzer, which oddly coincides with the summer, as last summer Drew and I also took a break which you would think maybe I would take up reading more fervently. But it hasn't happened that way. So I return to reading with Ford's pulitzer-winning novel, Independence Day. i started reading Ford's novel over the Fourth of July weekend. I thought that it would be an introspective but delightful read that would put into perspective our national holiday without an emotional identity. All of these things Ford takes within his scope, and strives toward that end continuously throughout his novel. Ford is a writer for writers. He is deliberate, controlled, precise, and very intellectual. Everything he places before your eyes is exactly what he intends and furthers his artistic goal completely. Ford's main character Frank Bascombe is a ex-sportswriter real estate agent with a pension for self-awareness, that might not be the right word, I'll try neurotic. There are so many questions I have for Ford and his main character, if I could pose questions to a fictional character. I haven't read anything else by Richard Ford, nor have i read anything else about him, but I have to imagine that Frank Bascombe isn't a far shot from how Ford may see himself. To put this review simply, and the complete opposite of Ford's writing style, I did not like this book. Ford takes 450 pages to say absolutely nothing about anything at all. Ford is ambivalent about virtually everything in life, our 'hero' of the fiction claims obviously not to be a hero and almost completely doesn't care about anything, so then that makes me realize, 'why should I care about this book?' I think there are several things that Ford tries throughout the novel that I found interestnig. I understand that Ford is playing with conventions throughout the novel, often switching voice throughout, weaving in dialect in very odd times even in the narration. Certain aspects of the novel are very interesting to me, but the overall attempt I think falls too short of interesting for me. Ford is a master of making long drawn out conversations of nothing. Almost every conversation Bascombe gets into in the novel he ends up becoming angry at someone else's political view, worldview or lack of one. It is amazing. Whereever Bascombe goes he has to have a long drawn out conversation that ends up not saying anything else at all. Ford writes eloquently, but says nothing. It is infuriating. I try not to let my own worldview affect my taste in literature too often, but this time I can't. In this novel, Ford postures constantly an aloof, sophisticant that is too involved in himself to mean anything to anyone. Bascombe is the most self-involved jerk I have ever had to read 450 pages about. The Existence Period is meaningless. I really really didn't like this book. It wasn't painful to read, but it definitely wasn't enjoyable. I am glad this one is over and it bumped my stats up 2 percentage points.

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