Today, my friends, is Independence Day. Meaning I just (finally) finished the book of that name by Richard Ford, and am now free to spend my free time reading something better. Something less . . . well, boring.
With all due respect to Mr. Ford, and to the folks at the Pulitzer institute or wherever it is that sit around and give prizes to books and other works each year, this book bored me to tears. Yes, Mr. Ford can turn a phrase, and every few pages he would manage to articulate a thought or feeling in a creative manner. But there wasn’t a story here. I slogged through 451 pages in the hopes that this character, Frank Bascombe, whose name I’d heard mentioned in awestruck reverie by literary folks, would do something. And when I say do something, I mean something that should take 451 pages to tell the story of. This book could have been a short story. And it would have been a fine one, I bet (although query whether I would have finished it and wondered where the story was).
As those of you who’ve read my prior posts may have gathered, I’m not the most patient of readers. I often start reading books that have garnered critical praise, only to bail on them after thirty pages because they couldn’t engage me. Well, this time I gave the book the benefit of the doubt and kept on going, and I can’t say that I’m any better for it.
My apologies to those of you who loved this book. I guess I’m just not picking up on something that’s there.