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A visionary account of American life--and the long-awaited sequel to one of the most celebrated novels of the past decade--Independence Day reveals a man and our country with unflinching comedy and the specter of hope and even permanence, all of which Richard Ford evokes with keen intelligence, perfect emotional pitch, and a voice invested with absolute authority.
Ford is the author now of five novels and a book of short stories, but he is probably best known for The Sportswriter (1988), widely praised as a realistic, compassionate and humorous view of American life as seen through the eyes of a highly intelligent and deeply involved observer. The man was Frank Bascombe of Haddan, N.J., and for those who came to see him as a new kind of American fiction icon, the good news is that he's back. Independence Day is an often poetic, sometimes searing, sometimes hilarious account of a few days around the Fourth of July in Bascombe's new life. Divorced, working with genuine enthusiasm and insight as a real estate salesman (not even John Updike has penetrated the working, commercial life of a contemporary American with such skill and empathy), embarked on a tentative new relationship with Sally, who lives by the sea, narrator Frank struggles through the long weekend with a mixture of courage, self-knowledge and utter foolishness that makes him a kind of 1980s Everyman. He desperately tries to find a new home for some brilliantly observed losers from Vermont, has some resentful exchanges with his former wife, takes a difficult teenage son on what might have been an idyllic pilgrimage to two sports Halls of Fame, bobs and weaves uneasily around Sally and, as the Fourth arrives, achieves a sort of low-key epiphany. This is a long, closely woven novel that, like life itself, is short on drama but dense with almost unconscious observations of the passing scene and reflections on fragmentary human encounters. In fact, if it were possible to write a Great American Novel of this time in our lives, this is what it would look like. Ford achieves astonishing effects on almost every page: atmospheric moments that recall James Agee, a sense of community as strong as those of the great Victorians and an almost Thurberesque grasp of the inanities and silent cruelties between people who are close. Even as a travel writer, evoking journeys through summertime Connecticut and New York, Ford makes his work glow. Perhaps the book's only fault is a technical one: that so many key conversations have to be carried out, in rather improbable length and complexity, on the phone. But it's difficult to imagine a better American novel appearing this year. First printing 50,000; simultaneous Random House Audio; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
A deeply satisfying journey through the inner world of a middle-aged, middle class American. The protagonist is now marking time, working as a real estate agent, failing as a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by john smith
A coherent and utterly believable philosophical long weekend expressed so creatively and so eloquently by an astounding writer. Read morePublished 5 months ago by highparkdave
Day to day life and times of one of us. Very well written as usual and full to the brim with layer upon layer of human nature.Published 10 months ago by DR
Frank Bascombe appeared to me to be an American style Everyman, a metaphor for the United States and American society and culture at this time in its history. Read morePublished 13 months ago by westcoast
OK. It got a Pulitzer Prize so it had to have some redeeming features. It did. The writing was excellent in most places. Read morePublished on Sept. 28 2012 by Ronald E. Dines
This book is entirely too long, too boring, too plagued by a main character so paralyzed by introspection he can't narrate a sentence or two without a parenthetical aside (and I'm... Read morePublished on June 6 2002 by Jack Williams
Maybe it's because I'm not 40 something, divorced, on a second career, with two estranged kids but I just didn't get much out of this book. Read morePublished on May 14 2002 by C. Baker
I'm writing this to summarize what the other reviewers have said:
If you believe that a great plot makes a great book and want to "like" your protagonist, stick to... Read more
This was a Pulitzer Prize winner? It only goes to show you that in the world of books as in other fields it's not whether one is able to write, but who one knows in the world of... Read morePublished on Dec 27 2001 by Joyann Sanz-agero