Synopses & Reviews
With The Sportswriter,
in 1986, Richard Ford commenced a cycle of novels that ten years laterafter Independence Day
won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Awardwas hailed by The Times
of London as “an extraordinary epic [that] is nothing less than the story of the twentieth century itself.” Now, a decade later, Frank Bascombe returns, with a new lease on life (and real estate), more acutely in thrall to lifes endless complexities than ever before.
His story resumes in the autumn of 2000, when his trade as a realtor on the Jersey Shore is thriving, permitting him to revel in the acceptance of “that long, stretching-out time when my dreams would have mystery like any ordinary persons; when whatever I do or say, who I marry, how my kids turn out, becomes what the worldif it makes note at allknows of me, how Im seen, understood, even how I think of myself before whatever there is thats wild and unassuagable rises and cheerlessly hauls me off to oblivion.” But as a Presidential election hangs in the balance, and a postnuclear-family Thanksgiving looms before him along with crises both marital and medical, Frank discovers that what he terms the Permanent Period is fraught with unforeseen perils: “All the ways that life feels like life at age fifty-five were strewn around me like poppies.”
A holiday, and a novel, no reader will ever forgetat once hilarious, harrowing, surprising, and profound. The Lay of the Land is astonishing in its own right and a magnificent expansion of one of the most celebrated chronicles of our time.
"[I]t's a pleasure to see what [Frank's] been up to, and fall back into his dreamy, remarkable voice....[B]ut in Lay for the first time it feels as if Ford tries to make up for the long swatches of inaction by throwing in a lot of hard-to-believe intrigue. (Grade: B-)" Entertainment Weekly
"Lay of the Land...is distinct not only for its singular style but also for its generosity. Ford shows that life is never easy and never placid. We will fight and flail, love and lose. Yet we keep moving forward for that occasional moment of pure understanding." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"[O]ne of its pleasures is the reminder that Ford can do conversation not just straightforward, revelatory dialogue, but the shorthand, crusty, idiomatic way that guys, particularly business guys, talk to one another." Boston Globe
"[T]here are some wonderful, deeply moving passages...buried beneath pages and pages of self-indulgent self-analysis and random ruminations...not the makings of a fitting follow-up to The Sportswriter and Independence Day, only the stale ingredients of an unnecessary and by-the-numbers sequel." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"There is plenty of comedy, of a low-key, whimsical kind, and the usual assortment of odd characters" A. O. Scott, New York Times
"Carver was...a mentor, friend, and admirer of Richard Ford; yet one can't help wondering whether Ford's verbally awesome but, I fear, fundamentally specious new novel would have had the maestro ducking behind a parapet....For all of its brilliance Ford's sentence-by-sentence resourcefulness is astonishing The Lay of the Land never pivots, as its predecessors did, on an engaging drama." Joseph O'Neill, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
With The Sportswriter
, in 1985, Richard Ford began a cycle of novels that ten years later after Independence Day
won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award was hailed by The Times of London
as "an extraordinary epic [that] is nothing less than the story of the twentieth century itself."
Frank Bascombe's story resumes, in the fall of 2000, with the presidential election still hanging in the balance and Thanksgiving looming before him with all the perils of a post-nuclear family get-together. He's now plying his trade as a realtor on the Jersey shore and contending with health, marital, and familial issues that have his full attention: "all the ways that life seems like life at age fifty-five strewn around me like poppies."
Richard Ford's first novel in over a decade: the funniest, most engaging (and explosive) book he's written, and a major literary event.
A follow-up to The Sportswriter and Independence Day once again picks up the story of Frank Bascombe in the fall of 2000, with the results of the presidential election still hanging in the balance and Frank confronted by the perils of Thanksgiving, as he contends with health, marital, and family issues and works as a realtor at the Jersey shore. 150,000 first printing.
About the Author
The author of five previous novels and three collections of short fiction, Richard Ford's honors also include the PEN/Malamud Award. He lives in Maine and New Orleans.