Agreed--I tried to read The Sportswriter ages ago, and I couldn't believe how banal it was. I kept reading and reading--the guy's One Of America's Literary Lights, right? No--nothing...it just got less and less interesting.
To handpick a few moments in the latest Ford novel is fine, but also somewhat unfair. The Sportswriter and Independence Day are really good novels.
Read "Rock Springs".
Of course, all characters in novels are exactly like the novelist. Unpleasant characters in a novel are proof positive that the novelist himself is a jerk; and novels should be judged entirely on how much you personally like the characters in them.
good (sarcastic) point, fnarf. i was thinking the same thing. the fact that the character is a smug, fatuous racist does not prove it's a bad book. eudora welty wrote about the southern version of characters like this, often. not to say it ISN'T a bad book, just that this example is not proof of such.
'A Piece of My Heart' and 'Rock Springs' are terrific, but that stuff is 25 years old and more. I thought when 'The Sportswriter' came out that its placid surface was ironic, but the sequel's dive into full upper middle-class lifestyle obsession put me off forever. And he's still at it. 'The Ultimate Good Luck' (before Sportswriter) is where it breaks down - the sensitivity of the author of 'Heart' and 'Rock' with a megagringo's antihuman persnickitiness about the messiness of cities, poverty, humanity. I won't get the quote exactly right, but there he says something like: 'From a distance Mexican cities look like oases, and American cities like disassembled nightmares, but when you get down on the ground to them, the case is exactly the reverse.' That was when I started to wonder how much other b.s. his work contained, and bailed. But 'Rock Springs' is devastating.
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