I saw Richard Ford on the Colbert Report, he was getting a "bump" for Independence Day because it got both a Pulitzer Prize and Pen/Faulkner Award. So I thought it would be worth a read. I can only say, that if Frank Bascombe, the protagonist, is supposed to be the modern Everyman, then this book is a harsh indictment of modern humanity. I finished the book only because my 5th grade teacher chastised me for giving up on House of the Seven Gables. Frank's state of "Existence" seemed to amount to giving up on his writing vocation, selling (or not selling) homes to the beleaguered homeless, benightedly trying to connect with his son and dodging commitment to both his girlfriend and ex-wife. Perhaps I would have enjoyed his foibles more if the humor in his situations hadn't been so subtle. As it was, I don't understand how this novel deserved these awards. In no way does it compare favorably with Updike, whose novels are generously laced with humor to alleviate the banality of modern existence they describe. P.S. Is this book a novel? I would rather characterize it as a collection of short stories related to each other by time, place and character. If the reader approaches this book with this expectation. they might get more enjoyment from it. Some of these stories are quite well written.
The Frank Bascombe series is right up there with Updike's Rabbit series as one of the great sagas of modern life in middle class America. This one focuses on the impact of divorce on Frank's children, particularly his messed-up teenage son, as they go on a road trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame on 4th of July weekend. Sad and funny.
Winner 1996 Pulitzer prize.
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