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The Sportswriter by Richard Ford (1986)

  1. 11
    The Accidental Tourist (abridged ∙ Penguin readers level 3) by Anne Tyler (Limelite)
    Limelite: See my review below. Strongly similar novels in subject matter, characterization, and theme.
  2. 11
    An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (ateolf)
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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Probably the most enchanting thing about the book is how crystalline Frank Bascombe's voice is. It's one of those voices that you can actually hear in your head, or at least that was the effect I felt. It's a stark portrait of what I'd rather not become when I grow up, but sadly it looks that must be the way since my chosen profession, poetry, doesn't pay even when I become a "success." I think the novel is a bit too pedestrian in some parts for it to be something on the level of a This Side Of Paradise or A Farewell To Arms. The sequel won some serious awards and if it's that good then I think this book clearly lays the groundwork. If he can maintain the voice and add perhaps more elements that are surprising yet inevitable in retrospect then I think Independence Day could be a masterpiece. This book, however, is great. ( )
  Salmondaze | Jan 9, 2015 |
A fair novel. Falls in the middle of the 70s-80s male journeys of discovery, a la Irving, Russo, Roth. Frank Bascombe is narrator, and is perhaps autobiographical to an extent. What disheartened me here was that Ford plays Bascombe's character much too safe. He floats about life in an apathetic malaise, prone to stages of "dreaminess" as he reminds us several times too many. It's as though Ford never really decided where to go with him, and so for me, he comes across unformed. With reservations aside, I did generally like Ford's writing, which manages intelligence without pretension, and I looked forward to Bascombe's next move, in a book of constant movement. ( )
1 vote JamesMScott | Nov 16, 2014 |
Frank Bascombe is seriously depressed and he is not handling things at all well. Following the tragic death of his young son, he has fallen into an extended malaise—or a bout of “dreaminess” as he calls it—that has led to several meaningless affairs, the dissolution of his marriage, and a growing disenchantment with the magazine writing job he turned to after giving up on his career as a novelist. In The Sportswriter, we follow Frank’s life over an eventful Easter weekend just before his 39th birthday when both his resolve and some of his closest relationships are severely tested.

The fact that I liked this book despite finding the main character to be mildly repellent can only be testimony to the strong writing and story-telling skills of the author. This is the first of Ford’s novels that I have read—in fact, it is the first of the so-called “Bascombe Trilogy,” followed by Independence Day and The Lay of the Land--and I was impressed with his insight into the human condition, at least as it pertains to the plight of a middle-aged, affluent male living in New Jersey during the 1980s. Without being overly sentimental, the author manages to empower Frank with an odd sense of optimism and resilience that carries him forward despite the various setbacks he faces, many of which are of his own design. I would guess that this is not subject matter that will resonate with every reader—a lot of women, for instance—but it did with me. I look forward to reading the other volumes in the series to see what Frank does next. ( )
  browner56 | Jun 7, 2014 |
A weekend in the life of a man on the verge of a mid-life crisis. Ford keeps the central character engaging despite some often unsympathetic actions and the whole thing’s studded with pithy, wise observations. ( )
  JonArnold | Mar 4, 2014 |
"The Sporstwriter" is first in Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe triloogy. I read the books out of order. First, Independence Day; then Lay of the Land, and finally The Sportswriter. Maybe that's why I thought Sportswriter Frank was a raving bore. I had enough of him already. But that's not it entirely. Frank, in this one, is constantly mulling things over and not saying much in the process. He's 39 and was born in 1945 (same year as me); so that would make the year 1984, and appropo that time, the word "yuppie" and self involved narcissist kept popping into my mind. Maybe Ford expected us to keep a sort of ironic distance from the jerk; still two thirds of the way though, the threads Ford has laid down start coming together and the read picks up steam only to peter out again in conclusion. ( )
1 vote nicktingle | Nov 24, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Fordprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wiel, Frans van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My name is Frank Bascombe. I am a sportswriter.
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What’s friendship’s realest measure? I’ll tell you. The amount of precious time you’ll squander on someone else’s calamities and fuck-ups.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679762108, Paperback)

It's hard to imagine a book illuminating the texture of everyday life more brilliantly, or capturing the truth of human emotions more honestly, than Ford does in his account of an alienated scribe in the New Jersey suburbs. Frank Bascombe, Ford's protagonist, clings to his almost villainous despair in a way that Walker Percy's men don't, but the book is heavily influenced by Ford's fellow southerner nonetheless. Read this and you're ready for Ford's Pulitzer Prize-winning sequel, Independence Day.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:47 -0400)

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At the beginning of his career, a young man gives up his chance to become a successful novelist in order to work as a sportswriter.

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