BOOKS: RETURN OF THE SPORTSWRITER

THE HERO OF RICHARD FORD'S BREAKTHROUGH 1986 NOVEL NOW LIVES IN NEW JERSEY, SELLING HOUSES AND COPING WITH THE PAST

It is aesthetically naive but perfectly natural to wonder what happens to characters after the books in which they appear have ended. In fact, the better the book, the greater the illusion that its interesting people have been leading autonomous lives and are still, somewhere, doing more of the same. Most readers felt that way about Richard Ford's highly acclaimed novel The Sportswriter (1986), which left its narrator-hero Frank Bascombe in an emotional limbo after a hectic Easter weekend spent trying to accommodate the demands of his job and a new girlfriend. For all his attempts to get on with life,...

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