The return of Frank Bascombe

by Steve

Coastline post-Hurricane Sandy

Potentially rather exciting news for fans of Richard Ford with reports of him reading from a new Frank Bascombe story. Ford has written three books focusing on the character, and I am a huge fan of them

Ford had said in the past that he wouldn’t revisit the Frank Bascombe character after the third book, The Lay of the Land, so him reading from a short story called Falling Forward is a reasonably big surprise, at least in your standard literary circles.  The story apparently chronicles Frank aged 67 and covers the period around Hurricane Sandy hitting the east coast of the US.

I remember reading that Ford hadn’t even intended to write a sequel to the first Bascombe book, The Sportswriter, but Independence Day sort of evolved into that role when he realised his protagonist was actually turning into Frank Bascombe. I guess this could well have been the case here again, that the story only worked when he slotted his most well-known character into events.

It is also interesting that Ford is now willing to tackle a major recent event through the eyes of Bascombe. The Lay of the Land was written and published in the first decade of this century, yet in being set in 2000 managed to avoid handling 9/11 and its aftermath, although in a vague fashion it felt like those events still hung over the book, even if just in their absence. By attaching a tale to a major event, when actively swerving that approach in the past, perhaps Ford is taking his character, and the way he tells his story about that character, in a slightly different direction.

I hope Falling Forward sees the light of day soon, and I also hope that it is the start of a new Frank Bascombe book, as I can’t think of a recent fictional character I’d like to see return more. Ford has documented the last 30 odd-years through this character, and it would be fascinating to read his take on life today.

Image from The End of the Internet, via Flickr