LET ME BE FRANK WITH YOU by Richard Ford

LET ME BE FRANK WITH YOU

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The novelist returns with his favorite protagonist for a coda that is both fitting and timely.

Ford made his critical and popular breakthrough by introducing Frank Bascombe in The Sportswriter (1986) and then continued his progression with the Pulitzer Prizewinning Independence Day (1995) and the epic The Lay of the Land (2006). In comparison to the other volumes in what had been known as "The Bascombe Trilogy"—and to Ford’s most recent novel, the masterful Canada (2012)—this is a short, formalistic work. Each of its four chapters could stand as a story on its own, featuring Frank’s meditations on odd encounters with someone from his past, now that he has settled into the detachment of retirement from the real estate racket. “[W]hat I mostly want to do is nothing I don’t want to do,” he explains, though he somehow finds himself commiserating with the guy who bought his house, destroyed by the recent Hurricane Sandy; the wife who became his ex three decades ago; and a former friend who is on his deathbed. While President Barack Obama, the hurricane and the bursting of the real estate bubble provide narrative signposts, not much really happens with Frank, which suits Frank just fine. He finds himself facing the mortal inevitability by paring down—ridding himself of friends, complications, words that have become meaningless. As he says, “I’d say it’s a simple, good-willed, fair-minded streamlining of life in anticipation of the final, thrilling dips of the roller-coaster.” Until then, what he experiences is “life as teeming and befuddling, followed by the end.” Over the course of his encounters, there are a couple of revelations that might disturb a man who felt more, but plot is secondary here to Frank’s voice, which remains at a reflective remove from whatever others are experiencing.

Another Bascombe novel would be a surprise, but so is this—a welcome one.

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-169206-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2014




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