'Frank Bascombe has earned himself a place beside Willy Loman and Harry Angstrom in our literary landscape, but he has done so with a wry wit and a fin de siecle wisdom that is very much his own.' New York Times Book Review It is fall, 2000 - and in every household and bar across the USA the likely outcome of the hi-jacked Presidential election is ...
'Frank Bascombe has earned himself a place beside Willy Loman and Harry Angstrom in our literary landscape, but he has done so with a wry wit and a fin de siecle wisdom that is very much his own.' New York Times Book Review It is fall, 2000 - and in every household and bar across the USA the likely outcome of the hi-jacked Presidential election is being hotly debated. Frank Bascombe, fifty-five, settled in his realty business in Sea-Clift, New Jersey, has arrived at a state of optimistic pragmatism that he calls the Permanent Period of life. Epic mistakes have already been made; dreams downsized, and Frank reflects that now at least there are fewer opportunities left in life to get things wrong. But the tranquility he had anticipated is not to be. Who could have guessed that his second wife Sally would walk out on their apparently happy marriage? Or that, after all these years, he would be spending Thanksgiving dinner with first wife Ann and their two children? That Ann might still, after all, feel for him what he has never quite stopped feeling for her? Life in the Permanent Period proves as ambivalent, precarious and full of possibility as life had ever been. In his third Frank Bascombe novel, after the bestselling The Sportswriter and Independence Day, Richard Ford contemplates the human character with wry precision and luminous prose. Graceful, expansive, filled with pathos but irresistibly funny, The Lay of the Land is a modern American masterpiece.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-09-11 Frank Bascombe meticulously maps New Jersey with a realtor's rapacious eye, and he is an equally intense topographer of his teeming inner landscape. In the first of Ford's magisterial Bascombe novels (The Sportswriter, 1986), Frank staved off feelings of loss and regret with a dissociated "dreaminess." He graduated to a more conventional detachment during what he calls the "Existence Period" of the Pen/Faulkner and Pulitzer Prize-winning Independence Day (1995). Now we find the 55-year-old former fiction writer and sports journalist in a "Permanent Period," a time of being, not becoming. He's long adjusted to the dissolution of his first marriage to women's golf instructor Ann Dykstra (which foundered 17 years earlier after the death of their nine-year-old, firstborn son, Ralph) and settled for eight years with second wife Sally Caldwell in Sea-Clift, N.J. Permanence has proven turbulent: Sally has abandoned Frank for her thought-to-be-dead first husband, and Frank's undergone treatment for prostate cancer. The novel's action unfolds in 2000 over the week before Thanksgiving, as Frank bemoans the contested election, mourns the imminent departure of Clinton ("My President," he says) and anticipates with measured ambivalence the impending holiday meal: his guests will include his 27-year-old son, Paul, a once-troubled adolescent grown into an abrasive "mainstreamer," who writes for Hallmark in Kansas City, Mo., and his 25-year-old daughter, Clarissa, a glamorous bisexual Harvard grad who's unfailingly loyal to her dad. Frank's quotidian routines are punctuated by weird but subtly depicted events: he happens on the scene of a bombing at the hospital in his former hometown of Haddam, N.J., clenches his jaw through an awkward meeting with Ann, provokes a bar fight and observes the demolition of an old building. But the real dramatic arc occurs in Frank's emotional life until the climax takes him out of his head. Ford summons a remarkable voice for his protagonist ruminant, jaunty, merciless, generous and painfully observant building a dense narrative from Frank's improvisations, epiphanies and revisions. His reluctance to "fully occupy" his real estate career ("it's really about arriving and destinations, and all the prospects that await you or might await you in some place you never thought about") illuminates the preoccupations of the boomer generation; for Frank, an unwritten novel and broken relationships combine with the dwindling fantasy of endless possibility in work and in love to breed doubt: "Is this it?" and "Am I good?" Frank wonders. The answers don't come easy. 150,000 announced first printing. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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