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The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
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The Lay of the Land

by Richard Ford

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Frank Bascombe (3)

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1,425278,243 (3.87)54
Frank Bascombe's story resumes, in the fall of 2000, with the presidential election still hanging in the balance and Thanksgiving looming before him with all the perils of a post-nuclear family get-together. He's now plying his trade as a realtor on the Jersey shore and contending with health, marital and familial issues that have his full attention: "all the ways that life seems like life at age fifty-five strewn around me like poppies."… (more)

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» See also 54 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Frank Bascombe, real estate manager, aka sportswriter and novelist, is in the prime of his life. He is on what he describes as ""the permanent phase" of his life, the period when life "starts to look like a destination rather than a journey". He is 55, his second wife has left him for her first husband, he has prostate cancer, his daughter is moving from her lesbian phase, to what exactly? His son has a girlfriend and wants a relationship with his father. But Paul, the son is overbearing and, what was it that Frank did not give him? His first wife, Anne, calls and wants to start another relationship, But, do they really love each other? These and other life problems all emerge within three days of this 500 page novel.
  JoshSapan | May 29, 2019 |
I hadn't read previous Frank Bascom tales, and it took me a while to get into this, but I found it strangely compelling. The strange part is that I didn't find Frank all that likable. ( )
  CYGeeker | Sep 6, 2018 |
I really wanted to like this book with its story of Frank Bascombe as he faces the Permanent Period of his life. I'm not sure it matters that this was the third book in a series: I learned enough about Frank's past to be able to follow the narrative. And I liked Frank...he really was coming at life with full force and taking a battering in the process. I found the ending a little strange and convenient to Frank's evolution. I was reminded of the King's comment to Mozart in the movie Amadeus: There were just too many notes. In this case, it seems like there were just too many words. ( )
  witchyrichy | Nov 13, 2015 |
Book three of Richard Ford’s trilogy about the life of Frank Bascombe starts out quite slow. Eleven years have passed since the conclusion of "Independence Day" with Frank turning 55 years old. He is still mourning his lost son, still selling real estate, still pondering the mystery of his unsuccessful relationships with the women in his life, and still trying to develop an acceptable relationship with his now adult children.

Though he has moved and remarried, not much else has changed in Frank’s life. The repetition can be boring. But if the story doesn’t put you to sleep within the first quarter, or drive you crazy from Frank’s indecisive, lackadaisical, passive personality, you may end up enjoying "The Lay of the Land".

Although Frank assures the reader that he has now passed from the “Permanent Stage” to the “Development Stage”, it is obvious that he is still continually examining his life and searching for ways to improve… but never seems to get anywhere.

The entire novel takes place in one week, culminating on Thanksgiving Day. Frank endures a calamity of events: a bar fight, car vandalism, funeral, dealing with is ex-wife and children, trying to close a deal on a property sale, and reconciling himself to the fact that he has prostate cancer… all while planning a family Thanksgiving weekend for his out-of-town children. Sounds like a lot, but as Frank plods from one scene to the next, the story gets weighted down with far too lengthy descriptions of the local environment, and Frank’s own personal thoughts. He has the annoying tendency to label and stereotype people based on their personality traits and his own personal experience with them (sometimes inappropriately, many times in-correctly) leaving the reader to think, “What a jerk!”.

Thankfully, in the last third of the book, the action picks up, and Frank seems to finally achieve some real “development”. I actually liked the ending. And despite the fact that "Independence Day" won the Pulitzer Prize, my favorite reading in the trilogy was "The Lay of the Land". ( )
  LadyLo | Aug 2, 2015 |
Walker Percy without the faith. I read an interview with this character somewhere, in which he said something to the effect that we must look for comfort to art rather than religion. I take it that this means he is well aware of the ersatz religious nature of this his work. Still, at my age and given the theme of this elegiac non-story, it's hard not to give him a few points.
  cstebbins | Feb 27, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Fordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jong, Sjaak deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Last week, I read in the Asbury Press a story that has come to sting me like a nettle.
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