Before Richard Ford published Independence Day
, the first novel to
win both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, he twice
read its seven hundred pages aloud to his wife, correcting rhythmical miscues
and shades of connotation. Such are the lengths to which an author will
go so readers meeting his sentences on the page will "think exactly
what I imagine they would think."
The son of a traveling salesman, Ford spent much of his youth living
in an Arkansas hotel managed by his grandfather. After publishing two
modestly successful novels he turned away from literature and tried sportswriting,
instead, working for Inside Sports magazine until it ceased publication
in 1982. When Sports Illustrated failed to offer a position he
turned back to fiction. The result was The Sportswriter, which
introduced readers to Frank Bascombe (who would return in Independence
Day, and will again in The Lay of the Land). Soon after came
Rock Springs, a stunning collection of stories that established
Ford's literary reputation.
In A Multitude of Sins, Ford offers ten pieces "about the
way people fail each other. Fail themselves, even." From the simple,
arresting vision of the collection's opener, "Privacy," to the
consequential short novella at its close, "Abyss," the stories
dramatize private lives, couples coming together and apart, infidelities
of both body and mind. Dave, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
One of the most celebrated--and unflinching--chroniclers of modern life now explores, in this masterful collection of short stories, the grand theme of intimacy, love, and their failures. And only a storyteller of Richard Ford's remarkable agility, insight, and candor could envision with such felicity our most fallible human efforts to achieve what we consider most important with one another: to be faithful and sincere, empathetic and patient, to be honest and passionate and finally loving toward those we care for or merely, if desperately, desire.
As in all of Ford's work, the settings are as distinct as the Connecticut countryside is from New Orleans, or a Michigan ski resort from Grand Central Station. Yet in each he is drawn to liaisons in and out and to the sides of marriage. An illicit visit to the Grand Canyon reveals a vastness even more profound . . . An exacting career woman celebrates Christmas with her adamantly post-nuclear family . . . A couple weekending in Maine try to
recapture the ardor that has disappeared, both gradually and suddenly, from their life together . . . A boy confronts his estranged father on a hunting trip and finds a disappointment that will change him forever . . . As they drive through a spring evening, a young wife confesses to her husband the affair she had with the host of the dinner party they're about to join.
It is within such relations, these extraordinary stories suggest, that our entire sense of right and wrong is enacted, and the rigorous intensity Richard Ford brings to these vivid, unforgettable dramas marks this as his most powerfully arresting book to date--confirming the judgment of the New York Times Book Review thatnobody now writing looks more like an American classic.
"[Ford's] mordant gaze falls on American men and women at those moments when they are crumpling up their lives like soiled tissue, looking back in disappointment, looking forward in what they are unable to recognise as despair....[He] can conjure up Chekhovian degrees of tragedy, dredging straightened lives with a peerless ability to identify human failing." Tom Lappin, The Scotsman (UK)
"The stories' readability is partly in their voyeuristic appeal and partly from Ford's mastery of narrative pace....Ford does what he does best, shows a fragile arrangement subtly breaking down, monitors the damage done to the psyches involved. It is a deft, highly observant performance." David Herd, Times Literary Supplement (UK)
"Startling and unabashed....Ford's sheer mastery of the form is jaw-dropping."
Julie Myerson, The Guardian (UK)
"Actually, it's a single sin: adultery and its 'multitude' of consequences, explored with varying success in this dour collection of nine stories and a novella." Kirkus Reviews
"Ford's execution is flawless; [the novella, 'Abyss'] has a canonical heft to it, bearing comparison to the best of Flannery O'Connor. Its presence alone makes this collection an essential volume, and the rest of the stories hold their own alongside it." Publishers Weekly
With this masterful new book his first in nearly four years Richard Ford reaffirms the judgment of The New York Times Book Review
that "nobody now writing looks more like an American classic."
Only a storyteller of Ford's remarkable agility and seriousness could produce such a rich array of stories on the single, dramatic theme of love and intimacy. A Multitude of Sins evokes, with unflinching candor, our failures to achieve what we consider to be most important: to be faithful and sincere, empathetic and patient, to be honest and passionate and finally loving toward those we care for or merely, if desperately, desire. As in all of Ford's work, the settings are as distinct as Montreal is from New Orleans, or Maine and the Grand Canyon. Yet in each he is drawn to the relations between women and men liaisons in and out and to the sides of marriage. It is in these relations, his extraordinary stories suggest, that our entire sense of right and wrong is enacted, and the fierce intensity he brings to these vivid, unforgettable dramas marks this as his most powerfully arresting book to date.
With this masterful new book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author evokes with unflinching candor our failures to achieve what we consider to be most important: to be faithful, patient, honest, passionate, and loving toward those we care for.
About the Author
The author of five novels and two collections of stories, Richard Ford was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Independence Day, the first book to win both prizes. In 2001 he received the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in short fiction.