Rock Springs
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Rock Springs

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  2,456 ratings  ·  117 reviews
In these ten exquisite stories, first published by Atlantic Monthly Press in 1987 and now reissued as a Grove Press paperback, Richard Ford mines literary gold from the wind-scrubbed landscape of the American West—and from the guarded hopes and gnawing loneliness of the people who live there: a refugee from justice driving across Wyoming with his daughter and an unhappy gi...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Grove Press (first published 1987)
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A lot of writers who do the brutal, spare stuff are not keen on explaining everything a character is thinking, even exactly what a character doesn't understand, or odd things the character might fear. Richard Ford doesn't avoid those tricky emotions here. Since these stories are all first-person, the narrator will always go into detail about what they believe are important moments. It becomes most intense when a character is confused:

Troy moved his hand around on the deer, then looked at me agai...more
Richard Ford writes stories somewhat like Raymond Carver, only with more of an edge. Set mostly in the towns and rural areas of Montana, his stories are about characters who have survived against the odds - busted marriages, unemployment, jail terms, and a kind of bleak aimlessness. Some struggle to hold onto an identity that will maintain their self respect and some sense of security, but it's often slipping away as life's lessons leave them typically empty-handed.

In the title story, a man with...more


The comparison should be drawn now and be done with: Carver. Ford and he were friends, and in one of those long, juicy Paris Review interviews I remember reading years ago - which was most likely in some way connected to reading Carver, because this is the first thing of Ford's I've read - I remember Ford saying he thought short story collections were easier things to write than novels. He was goading Carver, but he was serious too. Having become a recognised master of the all-American...more
too American, too male, too middle aged for me to really really get, but I'm sure there was something good going on here
plus, I learnt what the term 'gash-hound' means (had never heard that one before...)
Andy Miller
This is a collection of short stories published in 1987, well before his famous novels, The Sportwriter and Independence Day and of course the recently published Canada. The thing that struck me the most while reading this collection was the striking similarities between the short story "Great Falls" and the first half of "Canada" written more than 25 years later. While there were differences in plot, the characters and back stories have so much in common I wondered if Ford had always meant to w...more
Richard Ford's short stories, because they are short stories, lack the almost overwhelming power and depth of his great novels, The Sportswriter and Independence Day. But as short stories, they are no less masterfully crafted and lyrical. Of the huge glut of American writers and their publications, Ford is one of the few who will actually be studied and remembered after he is long dead and gone. He has such a distinct rhythm to his prose, somehow lyrical without being flowery. He excels at addin...more
Simon A. Smith
I don't know why it's taken me so long to read Richard Ford. He was influenced by one of my favorite writers (Richard Yates) and spent significant time hanging out with two of my other favorites (Tobias Wolff and Raymond Carver.) The time those three have spent together really shows. They all have very similar writing styles and often tackle the same heartbreaking subject matter. Ford may not be quite as good as Wolff or Carver, but who is? As far as short story writers go, nobody in my book.

Every time I read this collection I enjoy it more than the last and become even more impressed with Ford’s ability to get so deep without seeming to. His beginnings are subtle, and his endings crackle with meaning. The middle of his stories oscillate between quiet moments that explode like depth charges with their silence, and tense action threatening to undo the characters.

“Rock Springs” is remarkable for its tone, the way that Ford captured the language of the first-person narrator’s sense of...more
The best and most succinct thing I can say about this collection is that almost all of these stories could be adapted by the Coen brothers. If that sounds like something you'd be into then I can almost guarantee you'll like Rock Springs.

These stories can feel repetitive in the middle of the collection ("Sweethearts" and "Winterkill" have such identical set ups that if someone else had written one of them instead of Richard Ford, he could sue them for plagiarism. A woman in "Winterkill"...more
Tom Kern
Jul 07, 2012 Tom Kern is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The first story is pretty much the text book definition of how to write a short story.
Yeah it's Carver with a shot of Hemingway but hell if you're gonna use a model those guys are the best.
Anyway the theme of escape and cars is as American as the town it's set it.
And it's truly stunning the amount of character devlopement Ford can telegraph in just a few sentences.
The last lines of this story truly raise the bar to something epic and grand (in its minimalist way). Really awe inspiring.
I still c...more
Ten variations on a handful of themes: broken families, financial insecurity, moral unease, desolation, and the West. The characters in these stories may appear interchangeable and a bit too similar, but to me they simply seemed human. While not every story has a protagonist to root for, most have one to root against, one to feel sorry for, and one with whom we can relate. The characters make mistakes, they pay for them, and they mostly accept their flaws. For me, these stories were not always e...more
Richard Ford has become my favorite author.
I have a new favorite author, Richard Ford.
It’s important for you to know that I have a new favorite author, Richard Ford.
Three sentences saying very much the same thing, but yet each saying it so completely differently from the others. Yes, it’s a matter of words, but more than that, it’s a matter of tone. It’s a matter of intimacy. And it is the last sentence, the one that draws the recipient into the message -- because it implies, or rather crea...more
John Kenny
A number of years ago I tackled Richard Ford’s novel The Sportswriter and found it heavy going, so I was reluctant to take on another of his works. However, I picked up this collection of his short fiction and decided to give him another chance. And, boy, am I glad I did. Rock Springs gathers a number of stories that generally take place in and around Great Falls, Montana, and feature characters either fallen on hard times or living a life of limited scope of opportunity.

In ‘Rock Springs’, a man...more
Patrick McCoy
I first read Richard Ford’s great novels The Sportswriter and Independence Day in the 90s close to when they were released. However, I hadn’t read anything else until recently after reading an essay by Elizabeth Hardwick on the early writings of Ford and was inspired to rediscover him. Not long ago I read The Ultimate Good Luck and now his excellent short story collection, Rock Springs. I can see how Ford got thrown in with Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff as one of the originators of “dirty real...more
ron swegman
Rock Springs is Richard Ford's first collection of short stories, which was published after his third novel, The Sportswriter, finally cracked the glass ceiling and allowed him to rise to the prominence he now enjoys in American letters.

This collection of short fiction is set in various places across Montana, and the characters are distinctly average, working-class,, and American. The stories involve people on the precipice of big decisions in tough situations: infidelity, jail, unemployment, co...more
La prima volta con Richard Ford, e ne è valsa la pena.

Dieci racconti dove si alternano gli stessi personaggi, che si muovono in uno degli stati più burrascosi dell'America del dopoguerra.
Ford tratteggia i protagonisti di ogni racconto in maniera lucida, anche un po' cinica, eppure piacevole. Alla fine della lettura non c'è alcun senso di vuoto; semmai la volontà di ricominciare. Un filo esile di speranza, insomma.
Sono vite piuttosto comuni per quegli anni, a bordo di un'automobile o di un treno...more
Di Taylor
Feb 04, 2011 Di Taylor rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Di by: Prof. from literature class
We were assigned to read the short story "Rock Springs" for a literature class I'm taking called "Quest & Arrival." I was immediately taken with Richard Ford's writing and a friend lent me his copy and subsequently gave to me...I'm excited to read the rest of the short stories contained in this book and subsequent writings by this author.
Rock Springs is told in first person narrative (Earl) looking to escape the threat of jail time for writing bad checks in Montana. The ending leaves you po...more
I'm re-reading this one, having felt its impact some years before. Or should I say I'm reading "the optimists" over and over again. I've rarely seen a story whose strengths lie so heavily in the denouement,the repercussions of the climax outweighing the actual event without really being delved into. The arc of a whole life (or more aptly, a broken one) is implied here, and details of that life, for me at least, rushed to fill the gap. It's got me excited to see how much staying power the rest of...more
Kevin Thurman
This book was my first introduction to Ford back when I was 17. I had been searching for something Kerouac-esque to read as my love of On The Road was just making me want to flee. To this day the stories are still as powerful and elegant as they ever were. Ford's language is both languid and sparse. It is as if his characters really were narrating for you in how Ford writes like Carver. Which is to say, he writes the way people speak. While that may not sound like a plus, I assure you it is.
This is the second time for this book. I love Richard Fords writing. First, he writes so well about a time that is familiar to me. A time in which I grew up. He also captures the class of society which resonates so much with my family experiences growing up. So needless to say, I sit around saying"yah, that's the way it was."
Plus he writes about Montana, places that are familiar, in a prose that is a joy to read. What's not to like.
Apparently Ford is another author who I have been intending to read for a while only to find out when I read the title story of this collection that I already have and already love. "Rock Springs" is one of those stories everyone has read, and with just cause. Ford reminds me a little of a cross between McGuane and Carver. Western stories without cowboys and ranches but with down and outs. Either way, they are great stories.
Richard Ford writes like the west can feel - stark, cold, sad. I didn't realize when I picked up the book that it was a set of short stories but I'm glad because I really liked them. But I also didn't realize that they would be so full of melancholy either. They reminded me of Annie Proulx style a bit. While I wouldn't recommend this book if you're feeling blue, I loved his use of the landscapes to develop his themes.
The kind of writing that made me want to be a writer. First read this in high school, and re-read several times since. Growing up with a certain amount of blue-collar, hard-luck influence in my life, Ford's world was familiar and yet entirely new.
This compilation of short stories is classic Ford. If nothing else, his take on the underworld of the American West solidifies many of the biases or notions we have about various places close to where we live yet worlds apart. A quick and easy read.
Judith Podell
Everyone loves The Sportswriter except me. Rock Springs, on the other hand is one of the best American Short Story collections of my generation. Comparables? Tobias Wolff and Richard Bausch. Maybe a little Carver as well.
First published in the late 80s, these stories are well worth revisiting. Ford may be our best American short story writer. Get the book just to read "Sweethearts" one more time.
OK, let's see if I can do this without mentioning Carver.

Nope. Nevermind, then.

"Children" and "Sweethearts" are about as good as it gets for short stories.
Craig Terlson
Read, analyzed, read again, deconstructed, repeat. Easily my favorite s.s. collection of all time (whoa, that's saying something), and why I love Ford.
David Biddle
This book was my into to Richard Ford. It's top-shelf and something all modern writers need to read if they want to know how to write incredible stories.
I can read these stories over and over and over again. I've never read anything else of his but if it's anywhere near this great, i probably should.
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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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More about Richard Ford...
Canada Independence Day The Sportswriter The Lay of the Land A Multitude of Sins

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“It was on such a night as this that the unhappy things came about.” 4 likes
“He smiled at me, and it was not the worried, nervous smile from before, but a smile that meant he was pleased. And I don't remember him ever smiling at me that way again.” 3 likes
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