Sunday, September 17, 2006

"The Lay of the Land"

I'm eagerly looking forward to the October release of Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land.

From the publisher:

With The Sportswriter, in 1986, Richard Ford commenced a cycle of novels that ten years later—after Independence Day won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award—was hailed by The Times of London as “an extraordinary epic [that] is nothing less than the story of the twentieth century itself.” Now, a decade later, Frank Bascombe returns, with a new lease on life (and real estate), more acutely in thrall to life’s endless complexities than ever before.

His story resumes in the autumn of 2000, when his trade as a realtor on the Jersey Shore is thriving, permitting him to revel in the acceptance of “that long, stretching-out time when my dreams would have mystery like any ordinary person’s; when whatever I do or say, who I marry, how my kids turn out, becomes what the world—if it makes note at all—knows of me, how I’m seen, understood, even how I think of myself before whatever there is that’s wild and unassuagable rises and cheerlessly hauls me off to oblivion.” But as a Presidential election hangs in the balance, and a postnuclear-family Thanksgiving looms before him along with crises both marital and medical, Frank discovers that what he terms the Permanent Period is fraught with unforeseen perils: “All the ways that life feels like life at age fifty-five were strewn around me like poppies.”

A holiday, and a novel, no reader will ever forget—at once hilarious, harrowing, surprising, and profound. The Lay of the Land is astonishing in its own right and a magnificent expansion of one of the most celebrated chronicles of our time.
The Guardian boasts of an exclusive excerpt from the novel; click here to read it.

The New Yorker published Ford's “How Was It to Be Dead?,” a short story excerpted from The Lay of the Land. Here, in a Q & A with the New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, Ford talks about national holidays, real estate, and growing older with his character Frank Bascombe.
For a previous blog item on Independence Day click here. For more on Frank Bascombe, click here.

--Marshal Zeringue