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9780679454687

The Lay of the Land

Ford, Richard Author

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9780679454687: The Lay of the Land

With The Sportswriter, in 1986, Richard Ford commenced a cycle of novels that ten years later—after Independence Day won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award—was hailed by The Times of London as “an extraordinary epic [that] is nothing less than the story of the twentieth century itself.” Now, a decade later, Frank Bascombe returns, with a new lease on life (and real estate), more acutely in thrall to life’s endless complexities than ever before.

His story resumes in the autumn of 2000, when his trade as a realtor on the Jersey Shore is thriving, permitting him to revel in the acceptance of “that long, stretching-out time when my dreams would have mystery like any ordinary person’s; when whatever I do or say, who I marry, how my kids turn out, becomes what the world—if it makes note at all—knows of me, how I’m seen, understood, even how I think of myself before whatever there is that’s wild and unassuagable rises and cheerlessly hauls me off to oblivion.” But as a Presidential election hangs in the balance, and a postnuclear-family Thanksgiving looms before him along with crises both marital and medical, Frank discovers that what he terms the Permanent Period is fraught with unforeseen perils: “All the ways that life feels like life at age fifty-five were strewn around me like poppies.”

A holiday, and a novel, no reader will ever forget—at once hilarious, harrowing, surprising, and profound. The Lay of the Land is astonishing in its own right and a magnificent expansion of one of the most celebrated chronicles of our time.

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After more than a decade, Richard Ford revives Frank Bascombe, the beloved protagonist from The Sportswriter and Independence Day. Fans will be scrambling for The Lay of the Land, a novel that finds Bascombe contending with health, marital, and familial issues wake of the 2000 presidential election. We asked Richard Ford to tell us a little more about what it's like to create (and share so much time with) a character like Frank. Read his short essay below. --Daphne Durham

Richard Ford on Frank Bascombe

I never think of the characters I write as exactly people, the way some writers say they do, letting their characters "just take over and write the book;" or for that matter, in the way I want readers to think of them as people, or even as I think of characters in novels I myself read (and didn't write). In my own books I do all the writing--the characters don't. And for me to think of them as people, instead of as figures made of language, would make my characters less subject to the useful and necessary changes that occur as I grow in my own awareness about them as I make them up. Writing a character for twenty-five years and for three novels, as I have written about Frank Bascombe, has meant that Frank has, of course, become a presence in my life (and a welcome one). When I wrote Independence Day I began with the belief that Frank was pretty much the same character and presence he was in The Sportswriter. But when I went back later and read parts of The Sportswriter, I found that the sentences Frank "spoke" and that filled that second book were longer, more complex, and actually contained more nitty experience than the first book. This has also been true of The Lay of the Land: longer sentences, more experience to reconcile and transact, more words required to make lived life seem accessible. You could say that Frank had simply changed as we all do. But practically speaking--as his author--what this makes me think is that I've had to make up Frank up newly each time, and have not exactly "gone back" and "found" him--although Frank's history from the previous books has certainly needed to be kept in sight and made consistent. What is finally consistent to me about Frank is that I "hear" language I associate with him, and it is language that pleases me, with which I and he can (if I'm a good enough writer) represent life in an intelligent and hopeful and buoyant spirit a reader can make use of. --Richard Ford

About the Author:

The author of five earlier novels and three collections of stories, Richard Ford was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Independence Day, the first book to win both prizes. In 2001 he received the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in short fiction.


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Ford, Richard Author
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Book Description Knopf, 2006. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "With its profound and full-hearted perception . . . the voice is everything inThe Lay of the Land,and it insinuates itself into the reader's consciousness with the sneaky intractability of marriage . . . Eloquently poised between the points of beauty and sorrow [and] so rich--so filled with insight, humor, and stylistic grace--that I didn't want this long and winding trail to end." --Gail Caldwell,The Boston Globe "Writing at the height of his powers, with a magisterial grasp of time and place, Ford delivers on beautiful, bruising wonder of a book." --Lisa Shea,Elle "Moving, smart and funny . . . Ford has brilliantly, and sympathetically, dissected American life in the late 20th century, daring to examine the understory where matters of mortality, faith, politics, and sex are all-consuming but seldom directly addressed." --Elaina Richardson, O Magazine "Ford manages to become his character and remove authorial boundaries, transforming his novel into a story told to us by an old friend." --Stephen Morrow,Library Journal "Shot full of mystery, menace and grace." --Richard Wallace,Seattle Times "Engaging, brilliant, hugely sad, and, of course, ultimately uplifting." --William Leith,Evening Standard(London) "Illness, politics, family--big stuff indeed . . . [But] there is plenty of comedy, of a low-key, whimsical kind . . . By now, we have gotten to know Frank Bascombe well enough to take his measure, and to appreciate that, like almost no one else in our recent literature, he is life-size." --A. O. Scott,New York Times Book Review "The weird (and often the comical) invades the ordinary as Bascombe navigates what he calls the Permanent Period, meaning, more or less, the time of life when he believes things have settled in and the possibility of life-shattering blows has passed. He's wrong, of course, [and] Ford's pitch-perfect voice takes us as close as we can get to experiencing another person's inner life." --George Hackett,Newsweek "The Lay of the Land,as with the entire Ford canon, is distinct not only for its singular style but also for its generosity. Ford shows that life is never easy and never placid. We will fight and flail, love and lose. Yet we keep moving forward for that occasional moment of pure understanding." --Stephen J. Lyons,Minneapolis Star-Tribune "Ford rolls out his 2006 Bascombe masterfully, assembling Frank's late middle age (his "Permanent Period") with such splendid writing and soulful humor that you don't read the book so much as watch it happen." --Jess Walter,Playboy British Acclaim forThe Lay of the Land: "Compulsively readable, even though Ford dares to set a pace that is both capacious and leisurely, in which personal rumination is brilliantly married to spot-on social scrutiny . . . As a portrait of the American psyche in a time of material plenty and great communal doubt, as a depiction of the dance we do with our own transience, and the accommodations we make with ourselves and others in order to get through the day,The Lay of the Landis a superb achievement." --Douglas Kennedy,The Independent "Wistful, bittersweet--and often very funny . . . [The Lay of the Land] seems to locate all the quiet despairs and hopes of the human condition with exquisite precision." --Mick Brown,Telegraph Magazine Advance reviews in the U.S.: "Frank Bascombe meticulously maps New Jersey with a realtor's rapacious eye, and he is an equally intense topographer of his teeming inner landscape . . . Ford summons a remarkable voice for his protagonist--ruminant, jaunty, merciless, generous and painfully observant--building a dense narrative from Fra. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0679454683

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Book Description Knopf, 2006. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. New York: Alfred A. Knopf [2006]. First edition. First printing. Hardbound. NEW/NEW. Signed by author on title page. A mint unread copy, opened only for signing. The final volume of Ford's Sprotswriter trilogy, an American classic. Chosen as one of the Top Five Fiction Books of 2006, by the New York Times Book Review; one of the top ten books of the year by TIME Magazine. With mylar dust jacket protector. Defect-free, smoke-free. Shipped in sturdy box. 0.0. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # tc1006-5

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Book Description Knopf, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. First edition. First pritning. Hardbound. NEW/NEW. SIGNED by author on title page. No inscriptions, just his name alone. A mint unread copy, comes with archival-quality mylar dust jacket protector. This book was purchased new and never opened except for author to sign. Smoke free. Defect free. The final volume of THE BASCOMBE TRILOGY, featuring Frank Bascombe, the protagonist from The Sportswriter and Independence Day. Chosen by New York Times Book Review as one of five best fiction books of 2006. "With a mastery second to none, Richard Ford has created a character we know as well as our next-door neighbors. Frank Bascombe has earned himself a place beside Willy Loman and Harry Angstrom in our literary landscape, but he has done so with a wry wit and a fin de siècle wisdom that is very much his own."—The New York Times Book Review. You can't find a better copy. 0.0. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # tc1006-7

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