Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Sportswriter” as Want to Read:
The Sportswriter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Sportswriter (Frank Bascombe #1)

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  13,249 Ratings  ·  862 Reviews
It's hard to imagine a book illuminating the texture of everyday life more brilliantly, or capturing the truth of human emotions more honestly, than Ford does in his account of an alienated scribe in the New Jersey suburbs. Frank Bascombe, Ford's protagonist, clings to his almost villainous despair in a way that Walker Percy's men don't, but the book is heavily influenced ...more
Published June 18th 1996 by Random House Value Publishing (first published 1986)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Sportswriter, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Sportswriter

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Glenn Russell
Jan 07, 2016 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Photo of the American novelist - Richard Ford

Part of the Vintage Contemporaries Series, Richard Ford’s 1986 novel, The Sportswriter, is about a divorced 38-year old suburban New Jersey writer who lives out the American dream gone sour. In some ways the story reminded me of Camus’s The Stranger. What I found particularly disturbing about the first-person narrator and main character, Ralph Bascombe, was the way Ralph would always project motives, backgrounds, ideas and futures onto all the people
Glenn Sumi
I tried reading Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter years ago, but I wasn’t ready. Now that I’ve lived a lot more life, I get it.

Most of all, I get Ford’s Everyman hero, Frank Bascombe, a 38-year-old, divorced man with two kids (one has died), who works at a sports magazine after he gave up a promising literary career and lives alone (he’s got an African boarder) in a New Jersey suburb.

I get Frank’s vague yearnings, his dreaminess, his little tragedies, his big ones, his successes, his failures, his
Mar 19, 2013 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Sportswriter started out really strong for me - seemed thoughtful and familiar and American, a bit like Stegner's Crossing to Safety.

But after a while, say about 250 pages, I stopped finding the character thoughtful and subtle and started thinking he was kind of a boorish self-serving windbag. It didn't help that I'd rather have spent more time with his ex wife and children, who seemed charming, funny and smart, than his ditzy and unappealing girlfriend or his sadsack friends. I think I als
Apr 14, 2013 Lawyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Folks who don't mind good writing about a guy you don't like
Recommended to Lawyer by: Group Read On The Southern Literary Trail
The Sportswriter: Richard Ford's Bleak View of the American Dream

 photo RichardFord_TheSportswriter_zps27b18424.jpg

The Sportswriter, 1st Edition, Vintage, 1986

"My name is Frank Bascombe. I am a sportswriter.

For the past fourteen years I have lived here at 19 Hoving Road, Haddam, New Jersey, in a large Tudor house bought when a book of short stories I wrote sold to a movie producer for a lot of money, and seemed to set my wife and me and our three children--two of whom were not even born yet--up for a good life.

Just exactly what that good lif
There was hardly any sports in this book at all. What a rip-off....

Frank Bascombe craves a 'normal' suburban existence the way a junkie craves heroin. Once an up-and-coming writer living with his wife in New York, Frank quit fiction writing and fled to the 'burbs in Jersey when offered a sports writing job for a weekly magazine. Frank's efforts to be a plain old suburbanite with zero introspection of his own life haven't exactly worked out, though. His young son died of a wasting disease and hi
Jan 31, 2013 Alex rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like sports, I like writing, so I figured I'd like The Sportswriter, written by acclaimed author and Pulitzer winner Richard Ford. After about 25 pages I realized that I disliked this book, and I hate-read the rest of the thing because I have a weird inability to give up on a book.

Ford comes from the Richard Russo school of writing, in that he seems to think that inundating the reader with detail will somehow make the book more real, or authentic (I call it that because Russo's Empire Falls w
Dec 11, 2014 Gill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Beautiful writing. This was like reading an Edward Hopper painting. Loneliness, sadness and beauty.
Scott Porch
Jun 26, 2013 Scott Porch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time I have read this book, having first read it five or six years ago when a book about a divorced sportswriter had a certain currency to me. I have read Ford's recent short story collection, “A Multitude of Sins,” and a number of his other short stories published in The New Yorker.

The Sportswriter, which takes place over an Easter Weekend, represents something of a turning point in writer Frank Bascomb’s life. The story begins with his early morning meeting with his ex-wife
Ben Hourigan
Jul 27, 2013 Ben Hourigan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been raving about this book for months, chiefly on the basis of its opening chapters, which for me were an unprecedented exposition in art (and such beautiful art, at that) of the value of the ordinary, uncelebrated life. It's something I am often deep need of being reminded of, so often do I feel myself a failure, and curiously enough, it's one of the things I hope to remind others of later in my writing career. Maybe not just now—my first two books deal with the issues of one who (falsely ...more
Apr 11, 2012 Labmom rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: award-winners
Awful! Self-absorbed baby boomer muses unitelligibly about life/sports. I didn't understand what the main character was talking about most of the time, the dialoge was terrible and practically incoherent. And EVERY time the main character noticed someone whose ethnicity was other than waspy, he pointed it out: The Polack football player, the Negro cabdriver (Negro? In 1986?) the Irish cop. This was anacronistic and irritating. Maybe you have to be a self-obsessed baby boomer to appreciate this b ...more
Jun 26, 2007 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There’s a scene in the first chapter of The Sportswriter that lays bare the novel’s heart. Frank Bascombe and his ex-wife—referred to as X throughout—arrive home from a night out to find their house ransacked. In making a list of the missing items for the police, X finds letters from another woman and demands to know who she is. Frank remains silent, and X, releasing the trapped fury created by the death of her son, her deteriorating marriage, and now the apparent infidelity of her husband, tear ...more
Anne Kadet
Mar 11, 2012 Anne Kadet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Like reading a piece of poop.
Apr 30, 2012 CC rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
About ten years ago I read the second book in this triglogy -- Independence Day, for which writer Richard Ford won a Pulitzer, and found his writing quite nice. Reminded of that, I picked this up, the first book in that trilogy. Either Ford's writing changed a great deal from one book to the other, or my tastes have changed, not sure which. But this wasn't the type of writing I remembered.

The book follows Frank Bascombe over an Easter weekend as he drifts around in his own mind, recalling the de
Oct 14, 2014 Max rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
Hi, I’m Frank Bascombe entering middle age in a dreamy self-absorbed lethargic marking of the time between birth and death. My wife divorced me after she became disillusioned with me and I turned to other women to reaffirm my value. This change in our relationship and resulting divorce was precipitated by the death of our nine year old son, but I have always avoided any challenge and sought mediocrity. Many years ago I started out to be a novelist but it required a lot of thought so I settled fo ...more
Stephen Burns
Another book I couldn't finish. Sigh. This is about as dry as it gets, and the first half of the book is spent inside Bascombe's head. 200 pages of introspection just doesn't do it for me.
Mar 01, 2014 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After reading "Canada" and "The Sportswriter", I have come to the conclusion that I just don't care for Richard Ford's writing. I found both of the books dull, slow, and remarkably shallow considering the narrators spend most of their time intently navel-gazing. Maybe it's a guy thing that I'm just not getting, but I found none of Frank Bascombe's introspective musings to be revelatory, illuminating, or at all interesting.

Ford used repetition in both the books I read but not to any advantage. I
Jan 04, 2013 Paul rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It took me almost a month to finish Richard Ford's "The Sportswriter." I couldn't stand reading more than 5-10 pages at a time. Why? Well, I'd say that reading "The Sportswriter" is like being at a cocktail party, stuck listening to a bore whom you ordinarily avoid. But that analogy is generic enough for Ford to appreciate it, so I'll attempt the intensity he appears to loathe: reading "The Sportswriter" is like being stuck in a urologist's waiting room with a logorrheic -- boredom and irritatio ...more
Mar 27, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 04, 2009 Jacob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reminiscent of Updike's Rabbit series, The Sportswriter is the typical "midlife crisis" novel. I am sure there are plenty of people who would enjoy this book, but I am not one of them. (I also did not like "Rabbit Run", the only one of those I got through.) While many of the characters in this novel are interesting, I never felt I got deeper than a surface glimpse of any of them. They are mostly miserable. And ordinary. And miserably ordinary, with ordinary lives and ordinary failings. Like many ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: males
I lost this poor book under my bed back in '07 and just uncovered it. I think it goes to show how much I was enjoying it initially that I let it lie there for a good half year without trying to retrieve it.

But when I returned to the trials and tribulations of a near-forty year-old sportswriter in the 1980s, all of a sudden his dreamy, midwest-meets-Jersey language and sensitive yet overly-mysogynistic way of thinking really resonated with me and I enjoyed every last page. Yet I still wouldn't re
Jun 02, 2016 Pečivo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hamburger
Sartreho existencialismus v praxi: Frank Bascombe je 38ti letej rozvedenej sportovní reportér, kterej žije na předměstí New Jersey. I když nejsem ano jedno z toho, tak stejně Bascombe zosobňuje všechny mý strachy z vlastni budoucnosti.

Bascombe píše sportovní reportáže, přestože jeho první novela byla velmi úspěšná a prodal na ni filmový práva. Pak se ale zasek na druhý a dostal nabídku psát o pošahanejch fotbalovejch hvězdách a jejich životě po sportu. Ke knize se tudíž nikdy nevrátil. Svoji prá
Mar 05, 2015 Andreas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard Ford ist der Meister der gnadenlosen Genauigkeit: Das macht auch bei diesem Buch den Genuss und die Herausforderung aus. Es illustriert das Gegenteil von ökonomischem Erzählen, wie Ford ein Osterwochenende des Sportreporters Frank Bascombe wiedergibt, frei nach dem Motto: Nichts ist schwerer zu ertragen als eine Reihe von Feiertagen. Vermeintlich Uninteressantes wird kaum herausgefiltert, stattdessen haben wir so ziemlich an jedem Schritt, jeder wirklich oder vermeintlich unbedeutenden, ...more
Jan 18, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought Independence Day some time ago and was considering The Lay of the Land when a friend said I should read the whole trilogy in order so I started on The Sportswriter. I was initially drawn in by the writing style: informal, slightly comic, completely honest. This is one of the most interesting novels of “everyday life” I can think of; it’s also a novel that gives me real insights into how men think. I’ve never got into Updike’s Rabbit novels, figured they must appeal primarily to men, but ...more
Feb 26, 2011 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lonely book about a lonely man who does and says things that you disagree with. Sadly many of these things you have either contemplated saying (or doing) or have already done yourself. In contrast, Ford makes Bascombe into a caring and intuitive character who catches himself from saying something to spare a persons feelings only to ruin it by asking them to hop into bed moments later. Frank Basombe is one of the truest human beings i have found in literature.

The book mostly takes plac
Kim Fay
This book is infused with a hypnotic suburban melancholy that kept me reading even when I was completely frustrated with the author. His writing is superb, but sometimes I wanted him to let the story go. Instead, I often felt that I was reading an essay about the characters, or suburbia, or writing or the modern human condition. Good essays, but essays, nonetheless. "The Sportswriter" is very much of its time (the mid-1980s), both in its style and in its self-reflection that verges on excruciati ...more
Sep 10, 2016 William1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, us, 20-ce
Adored this when I read it 30 years ago. I wonder if it would stand up to a second reading?
Sep 08, 2015 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frank Bascome may be the quintessential man, or at least one that exemplifies the prototypical masculine qualities. He values actions over words, projects his feelings and insecurities on others, and is always chasing the next chapter without bothering to reflect on the last. Yet he's not unlikeable, and Ford writes with such stark, beautiful prose about love, loss, loneliness, work, and the search for happiness that the pages flew by for me.
Sep 17, 2016 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, american
The writing style will not be to everyone's taste but it's a deep and thoughtful book tinged with a hint of melancholia.It does drag at times but i stuck with it and was richly rewarded.As the book only spans a few days there is a lot of thinking back to the past during moments in the present which works very well.I think if you are thirtysomething and pondering about life you will relate to this book.
Nov 07, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially I gave this review 2 stars, probably on my first reading, way back in 2000 or 2001, because Frank Bascombe got under my skin. since then, I've read each and every book in this series at least four times, and while I still find Frank infuriating, I love him. Richard Ford is a masterful writer, funny, engaging, and the creator of what I now recognize as one of my favorite characters in contemporary fiction.
So, somehow Ford's Independence Day came up on conversation with my husband recently and I realized I had not only not read it, but hadn't really heard of it. Since it is #2 (but the award winning) part of Bascombe Trilogy I decided to start with this. OH. MY. GOD. I am going to have to wait another 6 months (at least) before I am willing to tackle another Ford book. I am assuming that the world has not gone crazy and Independence Day is actually good, but at this point I am no where near intere ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Man Who Loved Children
  • Dog Soldiers
  • Falconer
  • The Assistant
  • Call It Sleep
  • Loving
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1-3)
  • The Sot-Weed Factor
  • The Berlin Stories: The Last of Mr Norris/Goodbye to Berlin
  • The Confessions of Nat Turner
  • A Fan's Notes
  • The Death of the Heart
  • Going Native
  • At Swim-Two-Birds
  • Appointment in Samarra
  • A House for Mr Biswas
  • Herzog
  • The Painted Bird
Richard Ford is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. His best-known works are the novel The Sportswriter and its sequels, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land, and the short story collection Rock Springs, which contains several widely anthologized stories.
For more info see
More about Richard Ford...

Other Books in the Series

Frank Bascombe (4 books)
  • Independence Day
  • The Lay of the Land
  • Let Me Be Frank With You

Share This Book

“People surprise you, Frank, with just how fuckin stupid they are.” 81 likes
“If you lose all hope, you can always find it again.” 50 likes
More quotes…