Books: Growing Old Resignedly

In Richard Ford's novel, melancholy is a total joy

It's not that Frank Bascombe has had a bad life. It's just that it has not gone the way he planned. We know that because we have been following him now for 20 years, since he first turned up in 1986 in The Sportswriter, Richard Ford's third novel. Back then he was a decent, meditative but somewhat adrift 38-year-old, given to serene reflections that eventually sounded like the defenses of a man whose wife has left him, whose son has died and who does not want to know how wounded he is. In 1995 Ford revisited Bascombe in Independence Day. By...

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