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The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
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The Lay of the Land (edition 2007)

by Richard Ford

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1,187216,765 (3.88)33
Member:RandyMetcalfe
Title:The Lay of the Land
Authors:Richard Ford
Info:Vintage Canada (2007), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Read in 2013, Your library
Rating:****
Tags:home, r2013

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The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford

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» See also 33 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Ford's third book about the ordinary white American man, Frank Bascombe, as ever offers a richly patterned and intricate meditation on the average and quotidian - and how extraordinary that is. The passage through life of a family man, navigating the new and unexpected, watching change and conscious of being one step behind or out of step, just holding things together or seeing them fall apart, takes us through a matter of days and miles in nearly 500 pages of intersections, hits and near misses.
  otterley | Feb 22, 2014 |
Boring, overwritten, pretentious crap laced with a steady diet of pronouncements on the evils of being a Republican. ( )
  PCorrigan | Aug 12, 2013 |
The Lay of the Land is the third in Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe trilogy. The time, in this one, the few days up to and including Thanksgiving in the year 2000. The place, more or less the Jersey Shore, though overlapping with Haddam, Frank's location in Independence Day, the second in the trilogy. Frank is 55 and carrying around radiation pellets in his prostate. The narration and the mood of the whole is consequently pretty much death saturated. Frank is a real estate agent, but a thoughtful, even philosophic guy and feels things about his kids and his two marriages, and he's trying to figure out how to deal with life in light of this death thing. It's now, my time, 2013. So it's odd looking back, listening to Frank, and knowing that he hasn't lived through 9.11 yet. It's odd remembering the horrible Bush Gore election and the treason committed by the Supreme Court. So it's a timely book, rooted in its time, and making me think about time. I am Frank's age. I too was 55 in 2000. I wonder what I might have felt about the book had I read it when it was originally published. As it is, I liked the book. I found it good company. More stuff goes on in the three days we spend with Frank than goes on for most people in a decade. Still mama said they'd be days like this, mama said. If there is a moral or deep meaning, it has something do with the vast distances between people, even husbands and wives, fathers and sons, an isolation that might be all the deeper in those with complex subjectivity. ( )
  nicktingle | Jul 18, 2013 |
Anyone who followed Frank Bascombe through Richard Ford’s previous novels in this trilogy (The Sportswriter and Independence Day) will be forgiven for some trepidation on picking up the final instalment, which is situated during the Thanksgiving Day weekend of 2000. American holidays haven’t been good to Frank. They tend to induce introspection, disruption from the usual routine, and interactions with one’s family, all of which are somewhat risky activities. And for Frank, who is now settled in what he calls his ‘Permanent Period’, such moments of personal and national soul searching usual trigger transformation. A change is certain for the country, mired though it is in the aftermath of the disputed Bush-Gore presidential election. But what kind of change can come for someone in his Permanent Period? What’s next, other than the ‘Next Level’, and what can that be other than death itself?

Frank is estranged from his first wife. His second wife, Sally, has been gone for nearly a year, having followed her former husband (who had been presumed dead) to the Scottish island of Mull. He cannot survive even a brief conversation with his son, Paul, without nearly coming to blows. His daughter, Clarissa, is pursuing her own transformations. His Tibetan colleague in Realty-Wise is itching to climb another rung on the great ladder of being. And Frank is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Anxious might be too modest a word to describe Frank’s state of mind.

Once again, Richard Ford paints a masterly picture of the modern condition in this gripping conclusion to his Frank Bascombe trilogy. The prose is dense with hesitant metaphor and promiscuous symbolism as Frank asserts, contradicts, and reasserts himself, more acted upon than acting, and incapable, seemingly, of transacting the smallest bit of business without disaster—physical, emotional, spiritual—rearing up and biting him. It’s hard to imagine a character more in need of our sympathy, or less able or likely to accept it.

Of course, endings are very much the theme of The Lay of the Land. One way or another, it’s the end for Frank. Eschatology breeds an intemperate clamouring for teleology. But whether Frank can piece together his life as a whole is an open question. And the end, when it comes, is always a surprise, however much we prepare ourselves.

Recommended without reservation. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jan 7, 2013 |
Frank Bascombe, real estate manager, aka sportswriter and novelist, is in the prime of his life. He is in what he describes as " the permanent phase " of his life, the period when life " starts to look like a destination rather than a journey. "
  MarieTea | Apr 22, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679776672, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:39 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Frank Bascombe's career in real estate is thriving and his life finally seems to be on the right track, but when he is faced with marital and medical crises, he must find a new way to navigate the challenges of life without endangering everything he has worked for.… (more)

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