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The Lay of the Land

(Frank Bascombe #3)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  3,716 ratings  ·  406 reviews
Frank Bascombe returns, with a new lease on life (and real estate), more acutely in thrall to life’s endless complexities than ever before. A holiday, and a novel, no reader will ever forget—at once hilarious, harrowing, surprising, and profound.

With The Sportswriter, in 1986, Richard Ford commenced a cycle of novels that ten years later—after Independence Day won both the
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Hardcover, 485 pages
Published October 24th 2006 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 1st 2006)
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Melanie
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"Dennett had three things to say about how we should live. The secret to spirituality had nothing to do with the soul, or anything supernatural-- it was this: let your self go. "If you can approach the world's complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only just scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupation
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B the BookAddict
Few writers can detail just three days in some 500 pages and still keep the reader interested but Richard Ford can.

This novel is unsentimental, humorous and distinct prose: the third about Frank Bascombe, although this is definitely a stand alone book. I have not read the two previous in the set but this didn't detract from my understanding and appreciation of this wonderful novel. There is not an extraneous sentence, not a word too many, not a character irrelevant in The Lay of the Land. Frank
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Steve
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
In this, the last in the trilogy, Frank is still the ever-thinking everyman, now age 55. He recently returned from the Mayo Clinic with less than full assurances, has seen his second wife leave him under odd circumstances, and has taken two steps forward and one step back (or is it one forward and two back?) with his first wife and their two grown kids. Frank has plenty to mull over. But then Ford offers up quite an assortment for readers to chew on, too.

1) Is there such a thing as a life too-w
...more
Paul
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
OK. At the risk of sounding mawkish or, gasp, even worse, sentimental, I'd describe this book, along with the other two Frank Bascombe novels (less so The Sportswriter, even more so Independence Day) as: wonderful. I often tell people that reading them is like slipping into a warm bath or, more appropriately, a warm parka. They're comforting. Which is not to say they're light or feel-good. They're books you don't ever want to end (though if they didn't they would become quite tiresome, due to th ...more
Teresa
Aug 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, if I could.

I've said many times I don't really believe in the entity called the Great American Novel, but if I did, this book would certainly qualify. It's wonderfully written (though exhausting at times with all the details, but trust the author, they all serve a purpose), chuckle-out loud funny at other times and even heartbreaking in a completely non-sentimental way, while giving insights into man, a man, and the American way of life--warts and all.

I read the first two Bascombe nov
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Leah
A digressive, long-winded, over-adjectived, frequently-hyphenated contemplation of the middle-aged, middle-classed, middle-of-the-road American...

Frank Bascombe sets out to have a meeting with his ex-wife. Five immensely tedious reading hours later and nearly a third of the way through the book, he hasn't yet got there. But he has digressed endlessly on those subjects that seem to obsess the white, middle-class, middle-aged American male – their health, the fact that they don't understand their
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Pris robichaud
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing

Bittersweet Downshift In Life Expectations , 13 Nov 2006


"This novel showcases many of Mr. Ford's gifts: his ability to capture the nubby, variegated texture of ordinary life; his unerring ear for how ordinary people talk; his talent for conjuring up subsidiary characters with a handful of brilliant brushstrokes.
MICHIKO KAKUTANI, New York Times

Frank Bascombe, real estate manager, aka sportswriter and novelist is in the prime of his life. He is on what he describes as ""the permanent phase" of
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Andy
Nov 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So we come to the third (and seemingly final) installment of Richard Ford's brilliant portrait of contemporary American adult life, as seen through the eyes of Ford's meditative everyman, Frank Bascombe.

I have spent a great deal of time now with Mr. Bascombe over the past few years, and in book time, we've passed nearly 20 years together. Here, I slipped so easily back into reading Frank's voice, it was like I was passing time with an old college buddy - someone I know, but only see every few y
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Elina
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Καταπληκτικό αν και δεν πρέπει να πολυσυμπαθεί τους Έλληνες. Περισσότερες λεπτομέρειες αργότερα...
Sarah
May 12, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who like internal monologues
This was recommended by Lex Runciman, my English professor, in his blog Far Corner Reader, so it's not a huge surprise that it reminds me of the types of books that I often read in college: the kind that I don't get as much out of unless I'm reading it with twenty other people and having thrice-weekly discussions. I'm sure that there's some sort of theme here about growing old, life in America, and stuff like that, but to me, it's just the story of Frank Bascombe, a divorced prostate-cancer-surv ...more
Kathleen
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Richard Ford returns to the story of Frank Bascombe, hero of The Sportswriter and Independence Day, here in The Lay of the Land. Although there is more action than in the previous two, this is still primary a stream of consciousness rumination straight from Frank's brain to the page.

Frank is 55 now, in the part of life he refers to as "The Permanent Period," where you are sailing into the sunset, if not smoothly, then at least somewhat secure in the knowledge that you cannot mess everything up a
...more
Phil
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love Richard Ford, and the Frank Bascombe trilogy should be required reading for anyone, particularly any man, born from 1940-1980. It hits home in a most recognizable way. It hits -- and pulls a punch -- in the exact same way our fathers and brothers, uncles and friends of the several-generations-older-than-Generation-Y probably do: emotionally, professionally, romantically, and parentally.

And Ford's writing is as fluid as a poet's, as ever.

Some people compare him to Raymond Carver, or John
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Jessica
Nov 26, 2014 marked it as to-read
I liked The Sportswriter a lot and loved Independence Day, but I'm putting The Lay of the Land aside for now. I just made it to page 60 and definitely could've kept going, but there are so many other books I want to read right now and I wasn't having enough fun with it to feel like putting them off for this.

The thing is, in this one Frank Bascombe kind of seemed like a dick. I mean more than usual. Part of what was interesting to me in the first two was his attitudes about race and politics, but
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Trina
May 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
As I read this extremely long novel about two days in the life of a 55-year old man with health and marital problems, what kept me going was not the story, which is contorted like all our everydays are contorted, but the writing, which is masterful and as a result effortless and luminous. I am in awe of Richard Ford's skill. Still, I wouldn't recommend this to too many people, because I don't know how much my friends want to read musings on the late periods of one's life, chronic illness, death ...more
Ron
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my dearest friends fell sick about a year ago just before we were scheduled to go up for our yearly Memorial Day visit. Since he wasn't feeling well, we decided to hold off for a bit and maybe come up later in the summer, but by later in the summer, he had discovered that he had cancer and decided it would be best to wait until he had gone through chemo. He got through chemo and after a bit got the prognosis, which was that he had mabye two years left if he went throught another round of ...more
Julia
Sep 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, part-of-a-set
I'd like to buy Richard Ford a drink. In honor of Frank Bascombe, I'd like to make it an old fashioned.

I first read Richard Ford when I was far too young to appreciate him--I think I stumbled across "Independence Day" in late elementary school. I was glad to revisit him at the beach this summer.

In terms of logistics, "The Lay of the Land" is the third in a set of novels about Frank Bascombe's life (Who is he, you ask? A modern-day self-deprecating Renaissance man of a sort). The first two, "Th
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Michael Backus
Feb 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
A hard book to explain or even recommend in some ways, I actively disliked it for the first 50 pages, but once I settled into the rhythms of it, I came around to the idea that this is the most stylistically over the top naturalistic book I've ever read. Ford details every thought and action of Frank Bascombe for three days and it's often very funny, very acerbic and always stunningly written. The music might sometimes seem convoluted or even grating, but once you settle into it, you realize how ...more
Patrick
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Note to authors: Please don't have a book with pages of introspective character thought"discussing" the calm post-cancer mind, ruminating on relationship, and even name-dropping philosophers alongside the WTF actions of somebody who has silly old-man brawls with fellow bar patrons, drops profanity in incogruous circumstances, and pretty much makes some of the most inane decisions of any "thoughtful" character in my reading experience. Lots of pages - lots of disconnect.
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : The Lay of the Land - Nevisande : Richard Ford - ISBN : 679454683 - ISBN13 : 9780679454687 - Dar 496 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2006
Dan
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I don't know what took me so long to get around to reading the Frank Bascombe books, but I wish I had earlier. While I was slowly wading through "Lay of the Land" (partly because it's very long and partly because Ford has said that this was the last Bascombe book, so I didn't really want it to end), a number of people asked me what the Bascombe books are about. Well... it's about all that stuff that has been established in the last 50 years as the stuff that you give people literary awards for. ...more
Jeff
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Richard Ford is a writer of substance and Lay of the Land is no exception to his oeuvre, this being the third installment of his novels narrated by Frank Bascombe, sportswriter turned real estate agent. Bascombe is an observer, perhaps by nature as a sportswriter, and this work is loaded with observations about life, marriage, cancer, aging, and George W. Bush. Real estate agents by trade live in their car, and Bascombe drives around the fictional New Jersey town of Haddam and nearly every mosqu ...more
J.M. Fraser
Jan 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
When you foolishly make a New Year’s resolution to read fifty-two books in fifty-two weeks, a pledge I foolishly made, Lay of the Land is so not the way to begin the marathon. This is not a book to race through, nor is it a book that will grab you by the lapels and pull you headlong from start to finish. No. It’s a book to be savored and enjoyed for what it is -- a character study and compelling portrait of America through one man’s eyes.

Lay of the Land is the third book in a trilogy about novel
...more
Susan
Dec 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
Richard Ford is a victim of his own success. This book needed the hand of a good editor, and I suspect no one in Ford's orbit had the courage to tell him to cut mercilessly and just "get on with it." The slow pace is encumbered by excessive detail, long clause-upon-clause paragraphs, and repetitive musings by a tedious Frank Bascombe. Ford does an excellent job of fleshing out the time and place (roughly the last quarter of the 20th century, wherein New Jersey capitulated to suburban sprawl and ...more
Alicia
Sep 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
I hate it when I read a book and can appreciate the good points of it but not really be able to identify with the characters or lose myself in the book. Richard Ford is a technically gifted author with a huge following of appreciative readers but I have never been that enamoured of his writing. Perhaps it is because he so often explores "boomer angst" and I cannot really relate to it.

In this novel, realtor Frank Bascombe, previously appearing in Independence Day and The Sportswriter, finds that
...more
Lauren Cartwright
Horrible. Utterly and completely horrible. Some context for why I read all three books: I packed Ford's trilogy for a week-long trip to Paris - the only books in my bag, which were the only non-French books to be found. Aside from Ford's now very obvious formula of chapter after chapter of Bascombe's narcissistic ramblings combined with (no surprise!) yet another life-changing event about 60 pages from the end, what I disliked most about this book is a toss up between statements that could only ...more
Abby
Nov 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The third of Richard Ford's wonderful books about Frank Bascombe, former sportswriter and current New Jersey realtor extraordinaire. (The first two were "The Sportswriter" and "Independence Day.") No one captures the humor and pathos of everyday life better than Ford, with an amazing amount of detail packed into a story that unfolds over just 3 days. As a byproduct, I now know more about southern NJ than I ever thought I wanted to know.
Lise
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've enjoyed each book in the Frank Bascombe series more than the one before and I loved the first book!
I read this and listened to the audio version afterwards. The guy reading has a younger Clint Eastwood gravelly voice and he's perfect. I'm tempted to just turn this book over and read it again.

"Why do we think we know anything?"
Gill
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Another five star novel from Richard Ford. There is more wisdom in this book about midlife and impending mortality than in a whole pile of self-help books put together.
Anne
Dec 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I decided to read Ford's trilogy because every male close to me loves Ford and I thought I had better get to know his work. I began The Sportswriter in August, 2012, and liked it very much, since the setting was familiar--central NJ, where I live, and, briefly, Detroit, MI, where I was born. The main character, Frank Bascombe, struggles with a dead son, a failed marriage, and trying to connect with his two surviving children, all during a few days surrounding Easter. Independence Day follows Fra ...more
Tim Boole
Heebie Jeebies in the Permanent Period: This novel is about what it's like to be staring down the last third of your life when you're an upper-middle class, white, male American living on the east coast. You might be thinking that's a crowded piece of real estate, what with Philip Roth's [[ASIN:0307277712 Everyman]] and other works. Ford defends the property well and has a lot to say. My one complaint with the book is that he takes more room than he needs to say it. It's a thick book, and some p ...more
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Richard Ford, born February 16, 1944 in Jackson, Mississippi, is an American novelist and short story writer. His best-known works are the novel The Sportswriter and its sequels, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land and Let Me Be Frank With You, and the short story collection Rock Springs, which contains several widely anthologized stories. Comparisons have been drawn between Ford's work and the ...more

Other books in the series

Frank Bascombe (4 books)
  • The Sportswriter
  • Independence Day
  • Let Me Be Frank With You
“Our ex-wifes always harbour secrets about us that make them irresistable. Until, of course, we remember who we are and what we did and why we are not married anymore.” 25 likes
“Humans generally get out the gist of what they need to say right at the beginning, then spend forever qualifying, contradicting, burnishing or taking important things back. Yor rareley miss anything by cutting most people off after two sentences.” 20 likes
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