Apr 30, 12
Read in April, 2012
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 death of his son a few years prior and his recent divorce, with a woman only known as X. Years earlier he had a collection of stories published, but abruptly quit writing early on to become a sportswriter -- a lot was made of this, it being brought up repeatedly, as I guess he regrets it. For the entire novel he's got no energy, no gumption, no verve. He's got a new girlfriend, and maybe he'll marry her. He meets her parents. That's about as exciting as it gets. Not too much else happens in the way of plot. Maybe that was the point -- life's filled with regret and either shake it off or don't? I haven't a clue, really. So much of it ran together that I simply stopped caring.
I suppose Frank was having an early mid-life crisis, except he was so damn boring I couldn't help but to think it was all of his own making. If you want a life, you should probably, I don't know, act like you do and get involved -- care -- rather than expect everyone to comfort your ass and physically breathe life into you every second of the day. There really wasn't anything but his own wobbly introspective thoughts going on page after page. I'll pass.
By the way, what person in 1986 uses the word Negro? I mean -- what??!! The main character said it five or six times to describe different characters: The Negro boy, the Negro janitor... The book takes place in the (then) present day 1986 New Jersey, not in the 1960's south. I kept wishing the main character would say that to one of their faces so I could witness him being punched in the mouth. But I didn't get the pleasure.