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A Piece of My Heart
Richard Ford
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A Piece of My Heart

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  471 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Ford's mesmerizing first novel is the story of two godless pilgrims. Robard Hewes has driven across the country in the service of a destructive passion. Sam Newell is seeking the missing piece of himself. When these men converge, on an uncharted island in the Mississippi, each discovers the thing he's looking for--amid a conflagration of violence that's as shocking as it i ...more
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published October 1st 1976 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1976)
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(showing 1-30 of 823)
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Jessie Young
This was one of those books where the first 5 pages were brutal. I re-read them about three times and still had no idea what was going on. The use of "he" really got me. As it turns out, in any given chapter, "he" refers to the person the chapter is named for...but it took me a while to figure that out.

The writing in this book is definitely good. The descriptions of nature were always incredibly precise and moving. What I did not like about it, however, was that I kept waiting for something to h
Nov 01, 2007 Max rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much action, color, character and amazing scene setting in this story. Jam packed with an overwhelming number of well-crafted and poignant descriptions of the light, the land, our thoughts, the air, the sun, our memories, the physical details of the people and situations who strike us, who leave a mark on our minds.
Jorge F.
La primera novela de Richard Ford lleva su sello por todas partes, pero también demuestra lo mucho que ha crecido el autor desde entonces. Entre los destellos de prometedora genialidad aparecen demasiadas escenas insulsas y confusas que entorpecen la lectura y le exigen al lector, quizás, más de lo que merece la pena dar para la recompensa a obtener. Muy lejos de ser la mejor novela del autor, y solo recomendable para sus lectores más fieles.
Marty St.
I am a big Ford fan and I really wanted to like this book, but sadly I can't recommend it.

The good news: the characterizations are vivid, and the text is heavy. Although you will be tempted to rush through the book (mostly because you keep expecting something big to happen), let me help you. Nothing really happens - so slow down and enjoy the prose itself. The descriptions are lush and deserve to be read slowly, so you can take them in. You absolutely get a deep understanding of the main charac
Feb 23, 2012 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ford is one of my favorite authors-I loved the sportswriter, independence day and lay of the land. I'd read some of his short stories and didn't grove on them as much, so I knew I wouldn't like all of his work. I just didn't enjoy this one - hard to describe why. It was well written - the man knows how to chose his words carefully-but it had an odd tone to it. Was going to force myself to finish it - it's not that long, but life is short, so into the unfinished pile it goes...
Carolyn Phelps
Jun 18, 2009 Carolyn Phelps rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book because I liked Richard Ford's later books and thought I would try out some of his earlier ones. Turned out to be a mistake. It's one of the few books I've read where I reached the end and asked myself why I wasted my time. Perhaps the only moral to the story is that if you leave your wife to chase another women and think the whole time it's a mistake, it probably is!
Aug 21, 2012 Jabberwock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012

Pure southern gothic - in the tradition of O'connor and Faulkner! This may seem like a departure from his later writing, but adds a lot of context for the tradition from which Ford emerged. His ear for dialogue (however improbable it might sound to a non-southerner) and eye for how cultural geography informs character is stunning at times.
Nov 15, 2015 Jeannine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have read Richard Ford and enjoyed. When I enjoy an author, I read everything they have written, but.... This book was so confusing. The first few chapters about getting laid. Did not understand the plastic sandwich bag/shower scene. Can someone tell me what that was about? Also the midget? Why read about losers that are not interesting? And I could not always tell who was talking. He said.. He said... He said...
Well, I always finish a book... Kept glancing at the % on my Kindle. When will thi
Jan 23, 2013 Taruia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a long winded and meandering book about two men who follow different paths, converging on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River, where many low key events occur. This is a book that fails to get out of first gear - Robard Hewes (a sort-of drifter who takes a security post on teh island for one week to prevent poachers from taking turkeys that weren't there) and Sam Newel, who other than sleeping with the granddaughter of the island's owners and being a failing law student, add ...more
Mar 14, 2012 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is not a very good book relative to Ford's later work IMHO. Much of the dialogue is unbelievable and the characters are not realistically drawn. I feel I'm a careful reader and if I dont understand something I will reread it until I get it. Frankly there are just some passages that don't make sense. The sex scenes and the speech of the characters engaged in them, while they are supposed to be realistic, are just awful!

In the books defense I see glimpses of why I like Fords later stuff, his
Harald Koht
Jan 17, 2016 Harald Koht rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1976 this powerful, first novel by one of my favorite authors, Richard Ford, is still surprisingly fresh and exciting. Ford's American South might be gone, but the two main characters are believable, somewhat confused misfits chasing their personal conception of the American dream. The men have most of the action; the women are bit players.
Feb 27, 2014 Beverly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enlightening book that confirmed my own observations. It is overwhelming that we treat the poor worse than we treat our pets. The answer must come from all within being confronted and made to face their greed and inhumanity. I am sick of the good religious people who continue to act in such ways to another human being.

After reading this book I feel that the only way for change to occur is to require all to switch housing situations so that both poor and rich can see the advantages and dis
Jun 16, 2010 Casey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ford is one of my favorite writers, so it's difficult to rate one of his books so poorly. While the writing (of this his first novel)shows signs of the brilliance of his later work, I'm glad this was not my first encounter with him. The plot of the novel comes together pretty well in the end, but throughout I couldn't help but question the motivations of the two central characters, and, by the end, I had to even question one of the character's place in the novel at all.

I haven't read his second
Mar 12, 2013 Zombieaps rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
I didn't read this book for plot, or some big climax, but was rather pushed through it sentence by sentence. I usually take statements such as the one previous to this as indications of a book that is boring and not worth my time. Each sentence stunned me. I would stop and stare for a few moments and pick the book back up and read some more. These moments of insight are also paired with discomfort. Ford is not willing to shield the reader for the more jagged aspects of Arkansas and Mississippi. ...more
Sep 20, 2014 Rafa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Es su primera novela, y esta tan preocupado por parecerse a Faulkner que, él o yo, nos perdimos.
Christopher Curtis
Meh. I struggled with the characters in this one. Beige characters. Hard to tell them apart.
Sep 17, 2009 Reid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliantly written first novel, a dark story of two men struggling with the most basic ideas of who they are and what their purpose might be in the world. A dense piece of writing in which nothing much happens in terms of actual events or actions, but that keeps the reader rapt nonetheless with depth of description and the inner lives of the characters. Ford's amazing career since (including a Pulitzer) is prefigured neatly in this excellent novel.
Mar 19, 2012 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Supremely disappointing. Having read most of Ford's other work, all of it incredible and some of it awe-inspiring, this novel was kind of a shock. It's rambling, boring, and even uninspired. Beuna is an interesting character, though she's monotonous and whiny. Everyone else was just a light. Some work seems to have been done to fix the feel of a plotless, meandering story by placing the climax in the prologue, but this wasn't enough for me. Bummer.
Dec 17, 2012 Jane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gee, thanks, Faulkner, for making this seem like a good idea. Ford's later novels may be more accessible and because he came highly recommended, I will probably give him another try, but for an occasionally raunchy novel this was boring and confusing. (Though if anyone can explain what exactly the perversity Buena dreamt up was, I'd be curious. I had no idea what he was talking about.)
Aug 21, 2007 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Richard wrote the most moving thing I read about 9-11. He also writes pretty heavy shit about lawns and wives and ex-wives. This is kinda pulpy. Love triangle between some girl, a minor league ball player and a criminal minded criminal. It works though. Ford thinks he's heavier than thou, on some "Yonder lies the Mississippi River, etc" shit. But it kinda works.
May 10, 2007 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the pope
Very Southern gothic, along the lines of Faulkner and Pinckney Benedict--weird ass characters making very poor choices. Great story about an island that doesn't exist on any map on the Mississippi River between the state of and Louisiana. Two parallel stories about the characters who meet up with one another. Several gory demises and nasty women.
This is Richard Ford's first novel. He draws on his Mississippi and Arkansaw background to set the novel and draw the characters. Very good character development and they are some "real characters"! He has you caring about the main character by the end. There is a minimum of dialogue. Genre...dirty realism.
Jun 10, 2008 Patrick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die hard Ford fans
This is probably the weakest of his that I have read so far, (I started out with the Sportswriter trilogy and Rock Springs) which is probably to be expected since it's his first. Nevertheless, Ford is one of the contemporary greats and I am eager to pursue the rest of his works.
Feb 16, 2009 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some real good writing here, buried between some convoluted plot whose resolution seems clear from the get go. Ford tells some colorful tales between the main story arc, but much of the book gets bogged down in meaningless details.
Mar 06, 2012 Claire marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read this, but his prose is so jewel-like that I always want to write down half of his sentences to think about later. Makes for slow reading!
Madeline Cohen
Gorgeous prose, but profoundly unsympathetic characters and ultimately an unsatisfying read. I found myself not caring much about what happened.
Aug 25, 2013 Jermajesty rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Borderline unreadable. I'm just glad Richard Ford emerged from his fog fast enough to write "The Sportswriter" and his other classics.
Sep 03, 2015 Pabgo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prose reads like poetry. Dark. Beautiful. Characters bring to mind Faulkner, McCarthy. Loved this book.
Travis Lynn
This sits rather firmly in the shadow of "The Sportswriter".
Nov 12, 2015 Bjm9591 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too heavy and left me dark. Not a pleasure read for sure.
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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.
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