Thursday, January 20, 2011

Richard Ford on Writing

This is a part 1 in a 2 part video interview with Ford talking about moving to the Jersey shore, writing, and other things. It has a nice atmospheric sense to it that I think you might enjoy. Richard Ford is a brilliant writer. I've known this for awhile but funny enough I've never read the Trilogy he's most well known for which are the books about his character Frank Bascombe (The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and the Lay of the Land). I read Wildlife and Rock Springs years ago and really loved that stuff. I only just finished A Piece of My Heart. I'm not sure how long ago it was after I read Wildlife I was surprised to learn Ford was from Mississippi since those other books had a western flavor. It must have been the early 90s I was reading other western writers like Thomas McGuane and Rick Bass. A little later I found Annie Proulx and the list goes on. I could identify with these writers because I'd moved around a bit growing up and before I started high school we'd lived in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Nebraska. The open landscape and the myth of the American west that my mother must have bought into that there are limitless possibilities in the west must have appearled to her. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The idea of reinventing oneself has always appealed to me.

A Piece of My Heart echoes with the southern cadence you might expect. It's a literary novel with long stretches of atmosphere and conversations that seem to about to explode into violence. It just solidifies this idea of Ford in my mind as a great writer. I want to say he's underrated but since he did get the Pulitzer for Independence Day in 1996 I guess that might sound funny though I rarely hear anyone mention his name. I'm going to read that trilogy for sure now since I've given myself a pep talk about it. Let me know if you read him and what you think. He has successfully avoided getting labeled as a Southern writer or a Western writer because his work takes place all over the country. He's an American writer.

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