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Independence Day (Frank Bascombe #2)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  10,795 ratings  ·  505 reviews
Another title for Ford's 1996 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel might be "The Return of Frank Bascombe." Bascombe, in this sequel to Ford's 10-year-old The Sportswriter, comes close to taking his place with John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom in the pantheon of confused white middle-class American literary protagonists. At age 44 he has entered what Bascombe calls "the Existence Peri ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published June 13th 1995 by Knopf (first published 1995)
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Tom Wilkinson I just finished it and never read the first book. Of course, I can't really know what I may have missed or not understood, but I never felt lost or…moreI just finished it and never read the first book. Of course, I can't really know what I may have missed or not understood, but I never felt lost or baffled by starting with the second book.

That said, I admire this book, but didn't love it. It has brilliant spots, huge ambition, and pithy insights galore, but really needed editing.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant
Well, sometimes I have to wonder if I'm on the right planet. Never has a book been so praised - and by the right people - as this one and The Sportswriter - so I gave this one a go and found myself in a hot muggy sauna of smugness, breathing in the profoundly self-satisfied atmosphere of this guy Bascombe - self-satisfied in spite of failed marriages, bad relationship with son and all that, one of those deeply wise, mature, creased lived-in face type guys who you instinctively trust - sorry pal, ...more
Jessica
I wouldn't say this is a book for all readers or all occasions, but it really was the perfect book for a rainy Fourth of July weekend when I was stuck at home alone with my dog, laid up and non-ambulatory after some improperly stacked firewood fell and crushed my toes.

I liked this better than The Sportswriter, though I did find some characters and conversations tiresome and can see how lots of people wouldn't get into this book. I got deeply into it, though, because it's one of those long novels
...more
Abraham
Sep 01, 2008 Abraham rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Moby Dick, Don Delillo, Realism
Shelves: fiction
Really a Virtuoso performance. Ford, in this book does right what I have always felt that Delillo fails at, which is the endless and minute description of events exactly as they unfold from within the subjective consciousness of the protagonist. It's a technique which, in this case, renders the main character overwhelmingly human by virtue of the flood of details corresponding, in quality, quantity, and pace, with my own experience of how events unfold. Ford's artifice disappears under the flood ...more
Jonathan Francisco
I first saw this book during one of my religion classes in college. My seatmate, who is now a good friend of mine, brought it with him. I asked him if a certain movie was adapted from the book, and he firmly answered "no". This was also the first time I got interested with books that have won the Pulitzer. Now Ford is, no doubt, a good writer. I love every minute Bascombe spent with his son. I can feel the tension between them, and Bascombe's want to make it work, the relationship. It saddened m ...more
Jacob
I rarely find myself thinking "wow, I hated that book." Often times the last few sentences of a book I've struggled through make me seriously reconsider whether or not I actually disliked it at all. But I can confidently say that this is by far the most aggravating, pretentious and boring book I've ever read. The entire book is essentially monologue and inner-workings, which I'm typically more than happy with, but the stuff Ford presents fells absolutely contrived and ridiculous. The main charac ...more
Steve
Like Frank Bascombe, Ford's protagonist, I'm middle-aged and sometimes given to contemplation. And while I wouldn't consider Frank a role model, I do give top marks to the book. I give it bonus points for:

- Inner thoughts that are meaningful and articulate--the kind that make you say, "Wish I'd thought of that, had I the brainpower to do so."

- Ford's wonderful writing style--descriptive without being obtrusive.

- Taking on a tough topic: the plodding years of middle age--what he calls the Existen
...more
Lauren Cartwright
Glutten for punishment that I am, after reading (and strongly disliking!) Ford's first Bascombe novel I soldiered on with the hope that "Independence Day" was, indeed, worthy of the Pulitzer Prize. After just a few chapters I realized that Ford had a formula: several chapters of Bascombe's narcissistic ramblings coupled with (surprise!) a life-changing event that shocks Bascombe into engaging with his family and the world around him about 60 pages from the end. I'm not on the Pulitzer panel, but ...more
Mark
I'm already getting ready for the brickbats on this one, but after reading more than one glowing review of Richard Ford's work, I tackled this one first, and I found that I disliked the main character so much that no amount of storytelling finesse about real estate in New Jersey and other exigencies of modern life could change my mind. And in this case, I had the feeling that Ford is a lot like his central character, so that gave me the kind of bad taste that has just put me off him permanently.
Devon
Eh. I'm torn about this book. There's no denying Ford is a good writer but I never really connected to the story. I just didn't feel much of anything for any of the characters, they all felt flat and one dimensional despite the overwhelming amount of detail he writes about them. This novel is like a song that is technically perfect but fails to inspire any real feeling.
Nancy
More morose than his previous incarnation in the "Sportswriter," Frank Bascombe returns as the amazingly well-drawn protagonist with the incredibly compelling inner voice. He never quite connects with the people around him and is always to a degree dissembling to his friends and family. Only the reader understands his rich philosophies and the complex reactions he has to events as they unfold in his life. Kudos to Richard Ford for creating a character so real that I feel as if I've gained an int ...more
Gill
I thought the writing was fabulous. Not a word out of place. A worthy winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Rebecca Johnson
1 part Richard Russo and 2 parts John Updike's Rabbit Series, this novel did not wow me. I think I understand why it was in the running for the Pulitzer, even if I don't understand why it won: Ford has a rare talent for prose; for taking every day mundanity and writing about the details in a relateable, beautiful way. At the end of the day, however, it's really just mundanity, and I believe Updike and Russo have been there, done that, and done it much better to boot. Frank Bascome spends a good ...more
Laura
Jan 29, 2008 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: realtors
So, I bought this book in California at the Westlake Village Library's "Book Nook", where my Grandmother has been a loyal volunteer for decades and takes me every time I visit --I think because she never remembers that she's already taken me there a million times before. And, believe it or not, I made it all the way to the end of the book only to realize that someone (probably the previous asshole owner) has ripped out the very last page. Who would do that?!!

You might think the suspense of not
...more
Bill
There are isolated moments of real insight here and it's a shame they're lost in such a meandering, pointless story. The book is strongest when it shows the impact that a realtor has on the lives of his clients -- something I hadn't really considered previously. The story of the Markhams, how the compromises they must make in settling for the home they can afford instead of the one they really want is a powerful metaphor for the lives of these two people, for the choices they've made and how the ...more
Jsavett1
I laughed out loud when I considered the box below this review where one can opt to hide his review lest he reveal any "spoilers." That would be impossible for this novel. It is TRULY, to paraphrase Seinfeld, a book "about nothing."

Well, wait. That's not totally true. There is that one thing that happens around page 300. I won't ruin it for you. Lord knows you'll have worked long and hard for it by then. It took me two MONTHS to finish this book. I stopped reading it several times and read, from
...more
Jordan Hill
May 30, 2015 Jordan Hill rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of dirty realism, modernism, and post-war American fiction.
Shelves: favorites
Richard Ford’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Independence Day, in my eyes, officially marks the author as the last and possibly greatest GMN* of the twentieth-century. I was impressed but not blown away by the first novel in his trilogy, The Sportswriter, in which we meet Frank Bascombe, a complicated and difficult-to-pin-down ex-marine and failed novelist who turns to sportswriting after the devastating death of his son and his subsequent divorce. The Sportswriter is indebted to Updike’s Rabbit ...more
Radwa
You know this American thing about writing books/making movies about y'all average, non-royal people's everyday's lives (which works out great in films, but not necessarily in literature)? It's at its best in Independence Day. It was a pleasure going on this journey with Frank Bascombe, with his interesting philosophy in life, his unashamed honesty about his past and his failures, his struggle to get his act together on different levels and the way he clearly speaks his mind to the reader and t ...more
Kathy
This Pulitzer prize-winning sequel to "The Sportswriter" revisits Frank Bascombe. Frank is no longer writing about sports, but rather selling real estate. He is still in Haddam, NJ, and this book follows him through the three day Independence Day weekend. A weekend where he debates with himself about his relationship, thinks endlessly about the real estate biz and one particularly vexing couple, and takes his troubled teenaged son for what is supposed to be a bonding weekend together.

Frank is fa
...more
Rebecca
I received this book as a bday gift and really wondered if I would like it. I was heartened by the fact that it was a Pulitzer Prize winner, but I still wasn't sure how much I would enjoy reading about a divorced man starting a second career as a real estate agent!

In the end, I found the writing incredibly captivating. The uses of internal dialogue and everyday situations made each of the characters come to life. I found myself never really connecting to the main character, but still being fasc
...more
Mary Stobie
When I worked as an author's escort in the early l990's I had the privilege of taking Richard Ford to the Tattered Cover in Denver. I had never heard of him and his book was Independence Day. A charming Mississippi gentleman, he said before we went into the reading, "I don't know if anyone will show up."
The room was packed with people and when Ford had read from his book for ten minutes, I said to myself "This author is going to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Literature." And he did!
The story c
...more
Steven
I guess this 'dude lit.' (as opposed to 'chick lit.'. I think he nailed it with this book. Not as haunting (depressing?) as his other books. There are somepassages that made me laugh out loud.
Brian
I read this book in college and then again shortly thereafter. This time around was my third and I'm about 10 years older now than when I read it the second time. Now that I have a child of my own and am thoroughly and indelibly living an "adult" existence, this is an almost completely different read for me. It's better now than it was when I was 23 or 26 or whatever.

Richard Ford just KNOWS things about humanity that I could never suppose to know. If I met him at a bar for a beer, I get the impr
...more
Marian
When I read Richard Ford's "The Sportswriter" I was impressed with his writing & also enjoyed an interesting story. It was hard to believe that his next book would be even better, but "Independence Day" was one of those "hard to put down, stay up way past bedtime treats" that compares favorably to "The Sportswriter", but has a larger cast of characters - all of whom are well-drawn- and a darker, but no less acurrate portrayal of the American scene in the peeriod he chooses to write about. In ...more
Paula
I found The Sportswriter compelling, but found myself growing weary of Frank Bascombe in this continuation of his story. I suspect part of my response is that I am personally less interested in the real estate life than I am in the writing and university careers explored in the first novel. I do like Ford's use of careers as metaphors - in this novel, how a real estate agent helps people find places to rest their heads. Even though Bascombe feels disconnected from life, he is a kind of Holden Ca ...more
Tuckova
Short version: SAD WHITE MIDDLE-AGED DUDE. HOW UNIQUE AND SPECIAL.
Long version: I enjoyed the first part of this book. I liked the writing and the story he was telling about real estate and our complicated desires for home. Then he went to his girlfriend's house and it was pretty much downhill from there, because that is an inconsistent and unreliable narrator or a poor writer, and either way it wasn't fun anymore. The dialogues were so stilted and so awful that I couldn't relax into the book a
...more
Albert Kendrick
This was a great find. I really enjoyed reading Richard Ford. I had put off reading his novels because I had heard his writing was rather stilted, full of itself. I don't know where I got that information, but I was misinformed. I found him very easy and enjoyable to read. Some authors can be very blatant in their opinions or perspectives. With Ford, I felt the author's perspective came through the actions and words of the protagonist and therefore were much more palatable and integrated with th ...more
Misha
Okay, here are some more of my musings on fiction. It is probably
misdirected since your stated lack of interest. So, please excuse me.

I have finished listening to "Independence Day" by Richard Ford in the
car and on the run. The novel got the Pulitzer and a couple of other
awards in 1996 when it came out.

The novel is long, does not have that much action, as it covers about
four days of the protagonist, Frank Bascombe, before and on the
Independence Day of 1988. However, it moves at a steady
pace. Lis
...more
Lauren
I wouldn't recommend this book. I found it at a used-book store and picked it up because it won the Pulitzer Prize. Although I found a few things in it that will stay with me, overall I wish I had spent that time reading something else.

Frank, a middle-aged divorced real estate agent, spends a long Fourth of July weekend showing houses and taking his mentally/emotionally troubled 15-year old son on a road trip to the basketball and baseball halls of fame. If the book were actually distilled down
...more
Caitlin
I read this when I was 14 and hated it, probably because I identified more with his teenage son than the main character Frank Bascombe. After reading, and loving, the other two Frank Bascombe books - The Lay of the Land and The Sportswriter -this year, I decided to reread this one.

And I loved it. (further proof my 14 year old self was an idiot.) The back of my edition was covered with quotes talking about 'genius', 'masterpiece' etc etc and for once they were spot on. One described this book as
...more
matt
I read this one after a tumultuous breakup and I completely connected with it. You know how after a big breakup you feel like a middle aged, lonely, sadly contemplative semi-loser who just wants to feel....uh...vital again?

Well, I did.

I woke up early (something I never do) to read this. I savored it. Frank whines, he whinges, he bemoans.

But Ford writes in a shimmering, smooth, Saul Bellow-y kinda a way that lets you (me) take in the sensations and the situations in an easy sip. I pictured ever
...more
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I love this book so much. 2 18 Nov 01, 2013 06:59AM  
Tackling the Puli...: Independence Day (Richard Ford, 1996) 14 35 Feb 06, 2013 08:06AM  
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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.
For more info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_...
More about Richard Ford...

Other Books in the Series

Frank Bascombe (4 books)
  • The Sportswriter
  • The Lay of the Land
  • Let Me Be Frank With You: A Frank Bascombe Book
Canada The Sportswriter Rock Springs The Lay of the Land Let Me Be Frank With You: A Frank Bascombe Book

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“...the worst thing about regret is that it makes you duck the chance of new regret, just as you get a glimmer that nothing is worth doing unless it has the potential to fuck up your whole life.
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