Rock Springs is a collection of stories Ford wrote during the 1980’s. There are no heroes in the traditional sense in these short works, nor are there villains. Some readers might be inclined to label the characters “victims,” for certainly the environment and the influence of other people determine the characters’ actions, often for the worse. Yet Ford should not be confused with the naturalistic authors of the early 1900’s who portrayed hapless human specimens under a microscope.
Though the situations in which characters find themselves seem, for the most part, not of their own making, rather than being dehumanized or victimized, they become more credible and sympathetic. Many are loners struggling to find some meaning in limited lives lived out against harsh environments. In the title story, Earl, the narrator, is a petty criminal fleeing bad-check charges in Montana with his girlfriend and his daughter. As his troubles mount—his car breaks down and his girlfriend decides to leave him—he experiences a self-revelation. He comes to see himself as a victim of happenstance, unable to take charge of his life: “There was always a gap between my plan and what happened, and I only responded to things as they came along and hoped I wouldn’t get in trouble.” Like many Ford stories, “Rock Springs” concludes as it begins, with a question that remains unanswered.
Like several protagonists in the stories, Les, the...
(The entire section is 505 words.)