Length: 464 pages
About: Divorcee estate agent's trials & tribulations
Style: 1st person
Where: US New Jersey
In this visionary sequel to The Sportswriter, Richard Ford deepens his portrait of one of the most unforgettable characters in American fiction, and in so doing gives us an indelible portrait of
America. Frank Bascombe, in the aftermath of his divorce and the ruin of his career, has entered an "Existence Period," selling real estate in Haddam, New Jersey, and mastering the high-wire act of
normalcy. But over one Fourth of July weekend, Frank is called into sudden, bewildering engagement with life.Independence Day is a moving, peerlessly funny odyssey through America and through the
layered consciousness of one of its most compelling literary incarnations, conducted by a novelist of astonishing empathy and perception.
I myself, Frank Bascombe, was mugged on Coolidge Street, one street over, late in April, spiritedly legging it home from a closing at our realty office just at dusk, a sense of achievement
lightening my step, stiff hoping to catch the evening news, a bottle of Roederer-a gift from a grateful seller I'd made a bundle for-under my arm. Three young boys, one of whom I thought I'd seen
before-an Asian-yet couldn't later name, came careering ziggy-zaggy down the sidewalk on minibikes, conked me in the head with a giant Pepsi bottle, and rode off howling. Nothing was stolen or
broken, though I was knocked silly on the ground, and sat in the grass for ten minutes, unnoticed in a whirling daze.
Beneath the novel's richly comic surface is a profoundly serious meditation on the price of independence and the value of connectedness. It is Ford's continuing triumph that, with Frank Bascombe,
he has again shown that cynicism and isolation are not necessarily the inheritance of the average white guy as the sun sets on his American empire.
The Sunday Times, Stephen Amidon 2nd July 1995
Not so good:
In the Daily Telegraph, Donna Tartt agreed that 'Independence Day lacks ironic detachment, possibly because Ford is over-fond of Bascombe's voice, which vacillates between the elegiac and a cranky
opinionated bray.' It seems that even, or rather especially, for his previous admirers, Ford has not heightened the impact of The Sportswriter but diluted it. They may even find, in retrospect, their
sense of the first book affected for the worse.
Guardian, David Sexton, 14th July 1995
About the author
Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi (February 16, 1944), the only son of Parker Carrol Ford, a traveling salesman for Faultless Starch, a Kansas City company. When Ford was eight years old, his
father had a major heart attack, and thereafter Ford spent as much time with his grandfather, a former prizefighter and hotel owner in Little Rock, Arkansas, as he did with his parents in
Mississippi. Ford's father died of a second heart attack in 1960.
Ford received a B.A. from Michigan State University. Having enrolled to study hotel management, he switched to English. After graduating he taught junior high school in Flint, Michigan, and
enlisted in the US Marines but was discharged after contracting hepatitis. At university he met Kristina Hensley, his future wife; the two married in 1968.
Despite mild dyslexia, Ford developed a serious interest in literature. He has stated in interviews that his dyslexia may, in fact, have helped him as a reader, as it forced him to approach books
at a slow and thoughtful pace.
Ford briefly attended law school but dropped out and entered the creative writing program at the University of California, Irvine, to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree, which he received in