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Independence Day

(Frank Bascombe #2)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  14,074 ratings  ·  713 reviews
The Pulitzer-Prize Winning novel for 1996.In this visionary sequel to The Sportswriter, Richard Ford deepens his portrait of one of the most unforgettable characters in American fiction, and in so doing gives us an indelible portrait of America.Frank Bascombe, in the aftermath of his divorce and the ruin of his career, has entered an "Existence Period," selling real estate ...more
Paperback, 451 pages
Published May 7th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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Tom Caufield I agree with you, except the word I would use (and I try and not use it too often), is 'turgid.' I felt that the weight of the events in the book did…moreI agree with you, except the word I would use (and I try and not use it too often), is 'turgid.' I felt that the weight of the events in the book did not warrant the sort of deeply troubled, highly detailed approach. I read this because I read and thoroughly enjoyed 'The Sportswriter,' one of my top 20 books of all time, and I recommend that to you as it strikes the perfect balance of content and style.(less)
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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3.86  · 
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 ·  14,074 ratings  ·  713 reviews

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Glenn Sumi
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another Home Run in the Frank Bascombe Series

Okay, let me just say it: Richard Ford’s fictional alter ego, Frank Bascombe, seems more real to me than many people I know.

How is this possible? In Independence Day, the second and most celebrated of his four Bascombe books – it won the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1996 – Ford shows that he knows everything about this charming, flawed and oh-so-relatable Everyman, including things Frank wouldn’t want him, or anyone, to know.

The result
Paul Bryant
Nov 30, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
Aug 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jul 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dicklits
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
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lauren Cartwright
Jul 30, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Okay, it's high time I gave up on this [terribly smug] masterpiece of an American novel.
Jordan Hill
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  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
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
Mar 31, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
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
Joan Colby
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the intermediate book in the Frank Bascombe trilogy. It is perhaps the best of the three covering the time from Frank's divorce from Ann, 7 years earlier, to the week of Independence Day, with Frank dilly-dallying about his attachment to Sally, going on a foreseeably unfortunate trip with his 15 year old disturbed son and trying to sell a house to a noxious couple. Actually, the real estate threads of these novels are quite interesting. The only caveat that I have is while self-awareness ...more
Jun 02, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Have we really entered an era where novels don't tell stories? I don't mind some thoughtful digression from time to time but it seems some writers are more interested in showing off how profoundly sensitive and insightful they are. I got to page 17 and concluded this was a book whose function was to not to give me a narrative.
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I thought the writing was fabulous. Not a word out of place. A worthy winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Jennifer B.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book, a lot. Like others, I was sucked in by the whole Pulitzer Prize thing, and the promise of an existential crisis. What I got instead was a bunch of outdated minutiae about real estate and navel gazing from a middle-aged balding man I really disliked. I soldiered on until the end, because it's what I do. I will finish a book once I start it, even if it makes me lose the will to live.

By the end of this pretentious and utterly boring drivel, I think I got a whiff of the feeling t
This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996. Most books don't make me laugh but this one was very funny. The story is about everyday life and the importance of not taking yourself too seriously. Also, a good portion of the book takes place in Cooperstown, NY at the baseball hall of fame which is one of my favorite places. I give this book 5 stars.
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Second book in the series detailing the life and (mis)adventures of Frank Bascombe former sportwriter and realtor during a 4th of July weekend. Caveat: This book is not for everyone -- some will find the writing tedious - the narrator, a middle aged white guy with all his warts. But I loved it and found the writing intelligent, poetic, dense and challenging at times. Perhaps - I'm in age nearer to his middle age angst - but I related to this New Jersey everyman. Frank is also not particularly li ...more
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
  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 ...more
Mar 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ford, richard, as there is the ole maddox or whatever his name is. no relation to chevy, i'm sure. ha! see, after signing up for goodreads back in sept of '10...or is that ought-ten?...or will that bring out the waco killers?...boggling over leggo-guns and a cheerleader w/a hunting rifle in the trunk of her car? call swat.

ha! because though i remember reading this book, and saying, right-on, bro! i couldn't for the life of me remember the title, much less the author of the piece, ford, richard..
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 43 Feb 06, 2013 08:06AM  

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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 (Frank Bascombe, #1)
  • The Lay of the Land
  • Let Me Be Frank With You
“...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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