Monday, March 24, 2008

Independence Day, the end

So after grousing about Richard Ford's Independence Day I soldiered through to the end and was deeply rewarding. Although it's less minimalistly anti-dramatic than the 200 pages of Crime and Punishment after Raskol'nikov murders the pawnbroker, during which the protagonist lies on his fetid couch, stares at yellow floral patterns in greasy old wallpaper and dreams delusionally fed by his visitors' conversations about (among other things) the crime he committed, the middle section of Ford's novel serves a similar purpose. Our hero is stuck in life, and has to divine a way forward and a way to connect with the people around him. And he does. And it works. And now I have to decide if I read The Sportswriter which was the first novel in the trilogy, or the subsequent one. But read them I will, in due time.

1 comment:

Steed said...

Richard Ford is a good writer, following in the Walker Percy tradition of covering normal men in everyday life, wrestling with despair. Both writers frustrate me as they are tempted by philosophizing, drawn away from story-telling, apparently unaware of their greater gift, their rightful purpose. Percy is a better story teller and a better pholosopher, but Ford is the best contemporary writer working in this odd category. The Sportswriter has a lot going on it and this saves it, because beneath the essayistic format, there is quite a bit of story, or circumstance, really, to chew over and work out. Wildfire is a different sort of book, an earlier incarnation, in which Ford shows his gifts for storytelling. Percy's The Last Gentleman is one of my favorite books.