Richard Ford Independence Day
Awards: Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
Born in 1944, Ford is an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and critic.
In Independence Day Ford continues the story of Frank Bascombe, introduced in his earlier work The Sportswriter. Bascombe is a middle-aged, middle-class American, a short-story writer who published just one book before quitting to become a sportswriter. Having lost a son, his marriage, and finally his job, Bascombe attempts to carry on with a career in real estate sales. The story takes place over a Fourth of July weekend, which Bascombe intends to spend visiting the baseball and basketball halls of fame with his remaining, deeply troubled teenage son. In the process, he considers the nature of independence in people's lives and takes stock of his own life.
Critics have praised Ford's ability to evoke sympathy among readers for a protagonist as common, unremarkable, and unheroic as Bascombe. While some reviewers have dismissed the plot of Independence Day as sketchy and uninteresting, others have found in its plainness a metaphor for the quiet desperation of everyday life. Critics have also praised Ford as masterful in his use of descriptive detail in Independence Day, particularly in his depiction of the book's setting and his understanding of the real estate business. "With Independence Day," Michiko Kakutani observed, "Mr. Ford has written a worthy sequel to The Sportswriter and galvanized his reputation as one of his generation's most eloquent voices."