Lay of the Land by Richard Ford


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (1 of 31), Read 33 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com

Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 07:44 PM


Frank Bascombe is back again, but in a slightly different form than I remember him in Independence Day. He's a little wordier, meeting his own mortality and finding out that he still can't be complacent. His self-described Permanent Period is just as changeable and unpredictable as the rest of his life.


As a person who is surprised to be over 50 myself, I related to all of the little changes in Frank's life. I often say that my mind feels pretty much the same, but my body keeps doing unexpected things. Ford did an excellent job of describing that contrast.


I'm curious as to what you all thought of the ending. On the actual Thanksgiving Day, I felt like I had walked into a John Irving novel between the next door neighbor's, Frank's son and all of the disasters. I wasn't sure that I felt that it all fit with what had gone before. But, the final chapter when he and Sally are on the plane going to the Mayo Clinic felt perfect.


Barb


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (2 of 31), Read 33 times

Conf: Reading List

From: R Bavetta xyzrbavetta@prodigy.net

Date: Wednesday, February 14, 2007 08:57 PM


I haven't finished this one yet, I'm about 2/3 through.


I loved Independence Day, and I love this. Ford is such a marvelous writer, that I'm in for the ride--all of Frank's mumblings, bumblings, caustic comments, wiseacres, insights and observations, bring 'em on. I don't even care that not much is really happening yet.


Ruth


Voices and Reflections

Ruth Bavetta

oil on canvas 1988

42x48 inches


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (3 of 31), Read 32 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Ricki B r.m.b@ntlworld.com

Date: Thursday, February 15, 2007 04:10 AM


I've just started this but already have questions

What is 'yukking'?

The noun form is used on the first page - 'Both stabilize the tax base and provide locals a few good yuks.'


The verb form is used on page 32 - 'As we used to say, yukking it up in the USMC about recruits who weren't going to make it...'


There's another word - 'segued' - He arrived from India to his Neward host family, segued on to Carteret...'


Thanks - obviously I'm getting further from the American English towards the English English.


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (4 of 31), Read 33 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Sherry Keller shkell@mac.com

Date: Thursday, February 15, 2007 07:34 AM


To yuk is to laugh--there's a kind of crudeness inherent in it, it seems. Segue is a musical term which has come into the mainstream. It means a kind of seamless change--to go from one thing to another.


Sherry


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (5 of 31), Read 36 times

Conf: Reading List

From: R Bavetta xyzrbavetta@prodigy.net

Date: Thursday, February 15, 2007 10:40 AM


What Sherry said. I don't remember when yuk enter the language. I do remember that segue used in nonmusical terms started maybe 20 years ago?


Ruth


Voices and Reflections

Ruth Bavetta

oil on canvas 1988

42x48 inches


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (6 of 31), Read 36 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Ricki B r.m.b@ntlworld.com

Date: Thursday, February 15, 2007 11:19 AM


Over here yuk is a negative expression, interesting. His writing is fantastic isn't it...I'm proceeding slowly.


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (7 of 31), Read 34 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Jane Niemeier xyzjniemeie@hotmail.com

Date: Thursday, February 15, 2007 04:39 PM


Barb and Ruth,


I agree with your observations. I enjoyed the writing and Frank's self-talk.



************SPOILERS ABOUND*****************


Each of the three days ended in disaster, and Frank would have been better off staying at home and hiding under his bed. The first two days, he would have been OK if he had stayed out of the bars. And Barb, I agree. I thought that the ending of the third day was bizarre. Several times Frank wished that his obnoxious neighbors would die, and guess what? They did.


What did you think of Frank's children? His son seemed to be a big disappointment to Frank, and Frank seemed to be closer to his daughter. I like the fact that the characters seem so real because of their faults and problems.


Ricki,


Yuk can have a second meaning here besides laughter. If you see something disgusting, you might say "Yuk!"


Jane


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (8 of 31), Read 34 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com

Date: Thursday, February 15, 2007 06:09 PM


Let's be sure to include Spoiler Alerts here like Jane did. I probably should have done that before I said anything about the ending. I think there are a number of people who are in the process of reading it and I wouldn't have wanted to know the ending ahead of time.


His kids were very interesting, Jane. I had conflicting thoughts about both of them. I don't think that anyone in that family, including the two children had come to grips with the death of the oldest son. I watched this dynamic in my sister's family when the oldest boy died at age 15 in a bicycle accident. It hits every family member in different ways and changes them for a lifetime. But, the impact on the siblings is the most complex, I think.


If I had bought this book, it would have been highlighted like crazy. But, I borrowed it from the library and only jotted notes on my bookmark. Unfortunately, I can't find the spot that talked about Paul trying to live up to the memory of Ralph, but it was an insightful statement.


Clarissa, in some ways, seemed to be trying to replace her mother with Frank. But, maybe not. She certainly didn't want to facilitate the relationship between her brother and her dad.


Barb


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (9 of 31), Read 35 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Sherry Keller shkell@mac.com

Date: Friday, February 16, 2007 07:42 AM


Yuck, spelled differently from yuk, is indeed something bad, Ricki. "Yucky" is a favorite children's expression for food they don't like.


Sherry


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (10 of 31), Read 25 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Gwendolyn Dawson gwendolyndawson@hotmail.com

Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 10:57 AM


I just finished this one, and it was a bit of a slog for me. I absolutely loved The Sportswriter and Independence Day, both of which I've read in the last few months. But this one seemed a lot less directed and too wordy to me. Also, I couldn't really discern a narrative arc like I felt existed in the first two books. This one seemed not to have any narrative arc and not much happened until near the end of the book when everything happened all at once and very quickly.


Gwen


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (11 of 31), Read 30 times

Conf: Reading List

From: R Bavetta xyzrbavetta@prodigy.net

Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2007 11:26 AM


I just finished it, too. I read Independence Day first, fell in love with it, so I then read The Sportwriter, which I didn't like nearly as much.


I was in love with this one almost all the way through. You're right in that nothing much happened until the end, but I was happy to amble through Frank's day with him sharing his musings.


SPOILER

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

..

.

.

..

..

.


But I've been thinking about the narrative arc in both ID and LOTL. In both books nothing much happens until almost the end, and then there's something surprising and violent.


But in ID, Paul's getting hit by the baseball seem much more a part of the story than the ending of LOTL. Frank was involved in Paul's accident, and it happened to his son, whom he loved yet didn't understand.


In LOTL, Franks shooting almost occurs like a deus ex machina. Thinking back, I can see how Ford set it up with his description of those neighbors, but his interactions with them are minimal and all of one note. We don't like them, and don't care if they're killed. (One wonderful thing about Ford's writing is that his characters are not usually all of one note, but are deeply complex.)


In ID, we cared deeply, both about Frank and about Paul.


I loved the very last scene though, as the plane descends.


Ruth


Voices and Reflections

Ruth Bavetta

oil on canvas 1988

42x48 inches


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (12 of 31), Read 19 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Ricki B r.m.b@ntlworld.com

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:12 PM


I now feel able to chat a bit about this as I am over 2/3rd through and have, heaven forbid, skipped ahead to the end in between because I wanted to see whether Bascombe was alive in the end... or not.

I am truly glad to be reading Proust at the same time. This is, primarily, because this book reminds me of Proust - the memory that Ford evokes in the little things in life. Clem Kadiddlehopper was the first thing that stood out for me and almost like Proust's descriptions of the effects of the madeleines. it took me back to the days of CK and the expression of sincere dopiness on his face. Then comes the nearly stream of consciouslness writing that takes you so far yet in such minute steps, and the feeling of near logo-indigestion (a fullness caused by the depth of the impact of Ford's writing). I like this book though I suspect that to get the real impact of it you almost need to be American and alive and living in the times and general sense of place that Ford describes.

I stopped to write at this moment because I have just come across this short passage and decided that I couldn't go on without commenting -


'Happy, as my poor father used to say, is a lot of hooey. Happy is a circus clown, a sitcom, a greeting card. Life, though, life's about something sterner. But also something better. A lot better. Believe me.'


That could be my newfound motto.


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (13 of 31), Read 19 times

Conf: Reading List

From: R Bavetta xyzrbavetta@prodigy.net

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:26 PM


That's wonderful, Ricki. This book is full of marvellous little bon mots, isn't it?


So much of Frank's character is revealed in his musings. They're not always PC, but they're never mean-spirited. I like this man. He does his best, which is all any of us can do.


Ruth


Voices and Reflections

Ruth Bavetta

oil on canvas 1988

42x48 inches


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (14 of 31), Read 20 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Sarah Hart norp-hart@msn.com

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2007 02:31 PM


Darn, this hasn't shown up yet from the library. It will probably get into my hands after you all have finished reading & discussing.


Sarah


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (15 of 31), Read 20 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Mary Anne Papale cbamapreads@comcast.net

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2007 08:06 PM


I am still in the slog mode, as Gwen has described. I'm enjoying it, but for some reason, I am not gripped so far.


MAP


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (16 of 31), Read 22 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2007 10:06 PM


Ricki, I had that same feeling about this book's relationship to Proust's writing. Bascombe is working through so many things that it doesn't seem possible to do it in simple language.


By the way, here's that link again to the interview with Ford that I posted before we started our discussion.


http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/Content?oid=73912&category=22148


Barb


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (17 of 31), Read 21 times

Conf: Reading List

From: R Bavetta xyzrbavetta@prodigy.net

Date: Friday, February 23, 2007 10:57 AM


Thanks for posting that interview again, Barb. It's really interesting, especially in how Ford says his characters always remain constructs for him. I've written one (unpublished) novel, and those characters remain real to me to this day. Ford's characters are usually so complex that the live for me as a reader, seems strange to hear that they don't live for the writer.


What an interesting man he is, though.


Ruth


Voices and Reflections

Ruth Bavetta

oil on canvas 1988

42x48 inches


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (18 of 31), Read 23 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com

Date: Friday, February 23, 2007 11:06 AM


He really is interesting, Ruth. I was surprised at how many interviews with him there are on the internet--as opposed to Anne Tyler who seems to do very, very few.


I just picked up his collection of short stories, A Multitude of Sins from the library. He's reading them. At first, he's a bit distracting, not at all the voice I expected, but he's getting better as he goes along or I'm adapting to him. Somewhere in another interview, I read that he wanted people to hear his sentences the way he wrote them. So, this seems like the best way to accomplish that goal. And, by the way, I like the stories so far.


Barb


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (19 of 31), Read 18 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Sarah Hart norp-hart@msn.com

Date: Friday, February 23, 2007 04:55 PM


I'm picking this up today at the library. Apparently, it's been on hold since 2/14 but I didn't get the message. I wouldn't have been able to read much, anyway. Things should be better now. I'll see if you all are still here when I get into it.


Sarah


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (20 of 31), Read 17 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Sarah Hart norp-hart@msn.com

Date: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 03:21 PM


I'm only about 30 pp into this but am indeed enjoying Frank's "bon mots" as Ruth puts it. Barb, I agree that he's wordier than I remember in ID. Lots of musings. I wonder if that was intentional--more reflection, less action, as we age? I haven't read enough to comment any further, so I will hie myself to me book.


Sarah


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (21 of 31), Read 17 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com

Date: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 08:01 PM


I believe that Ford implies exactly that in the interview that I posted, Sarah (you should probably wait to read that though). However, I am noticing in the Ford short stories published in 2003 that he is a bit wordier there as well. Perhaps, as they both age, there is more reflection though Ford is very emphatic that he is not Frank Bascombe.


Barb


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (22 of 31), Read 16 times

Conf: Reading List

From: R Bavetta xyzrbavetta@prodigy.net

Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 02:50 PM


It's hard to read LOTL and ID, without feeling that there is a great deal of Ford in Bascombe, even if he says there isn't. Is that a tribute to writing that sounds absolutely authentic, or to our tendency to equate an author with his characters?


Ruth


Voices and Reflections

Ruth Bavetta

oil on canvas 1988

42x48 inches


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (23 of 31), Read 19 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Gwendolyn Dawson gwendolyndawson@hotmail.com

Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 03:44 PM


Ruth asked: "Is that a tribute to writing that sounds absolutely authentic, or to our tendency to equate an author with his characters?"


Wow, what a good question. I put some thought into this, and for me personally, I now realize that I tend to equate an author with his/her character when the entire book is in the first person and told from the perspective of one character. I certainly did this with all three Frank Bascombe books, even though I've heard Ford say he's not like Frank. I'm sure this tendency is also related to the authenticity of the voice, but I'm picky about what I read, so it's rare for me to read a book that isn't well-written with an authentic voice (at least in my opinion).


I don't have this same tendency when the first-person perspective shifts from character to character throughout the book (can't think of any apt examples at the moment, but I know I've read books like that) or when the book isn't in first person.


I'm interested what others think on this point.


Gwen


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (24 of 31), Read 15 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Sarah Hart norp-hart@msn.com

Date: Thursday, March 01, 2007 12:07 PM


Gwen, I agree with you. I think it's particularly hard for me to separate the author from the character when the voice of the character is so detailed, delving deep into the inner workings, as it were, of the person. It's hard for me to imagine being able to speak in such detail and with such coherence from another's point of view. I find this particular rendering of Frank so much like a stream of consciousness (I know it's technically not, but it might as well be; I feel as if I am privy to whatever is rolling around in his head as he goes about his day) that I can't believe a good chunk of it isn't what rolls around in Ford's head.


I'm only at p. 100, just where he's entering his sponsee's house.


Sarah


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (25 of 31), Read 13 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com

Date: Thursday, March 01, 2007 07:07 PM


As I've been listening to his short stories, I've noticed that all of the characters are in the third person. I wonder if Frank is the only character that he's done in 1st.


I almost took this book back to the library today but then noticed that I had made a few notes on my bookmark and wanted to mention them here. One was the introduction of the Great Gatsby when Frank left his car to have the window repaired. I haven't read this since college and don't have a copy here. On page 327, in my edition of The Lay of the Land, Frank says: "The boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" imagery is at odds with the three boats imagery of the old Nick Carraway doppelganger, Wade. It's possible of course that as a modern student, Chris doesn't subscribe to the author concept per se. I, however, still do."


Can anyone who remembers more of Fitzgerald, particularly Gatsby, enlighten me regarding this?


And, I loved the sign: BOATS, CARS, TRAILER REPAIRS. NO JOB TOO ABSURD.


Barb


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (26 of 31), Read 16 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Sarah Hart norp-hart@msn.com

Date: Thursday, March 01, 2007 08:01 PM


I know this is picky, but...did anyone else notice the now (through p. 100, anyway) thrice-used but little-known word "bosky?" I finally gave in, the third time, and looked it up. Perhaps I'm the only one who not only didn't know the word, but had never seen it before. I love the liberal use of rare words in literature, when they're appropriate, but the multiple uses of this made me think he'd either fallen in love with the word or fallen in love with his ability to use it. Just a small, small quibble. Otherwise, I'm loving my journey through Frank's eyes.


Sarah


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (27 of 31), Read 19 times

Conf: Reading List

From: R Bavetta xyzrbavetta@prodigy.net

Date: Thursday, March 01, 2007 08:18 PM


I never noticed that he used it more than once. In fact, I don't remember noticing it at all.


Ruth


Voices and Reflections

Ruth Bavetta

oil on canvas 1988

42x48 inches


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (28 of 31), Read 17 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Sarah Hart norp-hart@msn.com

Date: Thursday, March 01, 2007 09:09 PM


My cursed eye for detail, Ruth. At least, my children always cursed it. They got away with less.


I don't have the other two occurrences right to hand, but the last one I noticed was in the 2nd paragraph on p. 97.


Sarah


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (29 of 31), Read 11 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com

Date: Friday, March 02, 2007 11:56 PM


I don't remember it either, Sarah, but what did you find when you looked it up?


Barb


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (30 of 31), Read 13 times

Conf: Reading List

From: R Bavetta xyzrbavetta@prodigy.net

Date: Saturday, March 03, 2007 01:25 AM


It means woodsy. A lovely word. Maybe that's why Ford got stuck on it.


Ruth


Voices and Reflections

Ruth Bavetta

oil on canvas 1988

42x48 inches


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Topic: The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (31 of 31), Read 13 times

Conf: Reading List

From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com

Date: Saturday, March 03, 2007 03:19 PM


Oh, I like it too!


Barb