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The Sportswriter

The Sportswriter

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Frank Bascombe has a younger girlfriend and a job as a sportswriter. To many men of his age, thirty-eight, this would be a cause for optimism, yet Frank feels the pull of his inner despair and especially of his recent losses - his preferred career has ended, his wife has divorced him, and a tragic accident took his elder son. In the course of this Easter weekend, Frank will lose all the remnants of his familiar life, though he will emerge heroic with spirits soaring. This is a magnificent novel that propelled Richard Ford into the first rank of American writers.

Fiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC Publication Date: 07/08/2006 ISBN-13: 9780747585176  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Richard Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1944. He has published five novels and three collections of stories, including The Sportswriter, Independence Day, Wildlife, A Multitude of Sins and most recently The Lay of the Land. Independence Day was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

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I can remember reading this book in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare during the summer of 1989. I was working as a bartender at the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in the aftermath of the very traumatic break-up of my first serious relationship. If you’re feeling heartbroken and lovesick, then being a bartender at a matchmaking festival is unlikely to make you feel much better about the world, although it might work as a kind of remedia amoris. Anyway, at the end of The Sportswriter the narrator, Frank Bascombe, who has suffered the collapse of his marriage as well as a post-marital relationship with a younger woman, tries to come to some conclusions about what has happened to him. This is what he decides: “As I’ve said, life has only one certain closure. It is possible to love someone, and no one else, and still not live with that one person or even see her.” It was, in a strange way, a kind of revelation for me: not so much about life, but about fiction. In that moment, a writer encapsulated all that I was feeling in a couple of sentences, and there was a kind of consolation in it. Someone – a man that I had never met, and perhaps never would – understood perfectly what I was going through. Incidentally, I still have that original paperback copy of The Sportswriter on my bookshelf, along with a signed first edition of the book that I bought much later. I get a little Proustian rush of memory each time I see that battered paperback – you don’t get that from an e-book! - and I would be distraught if I lost it, but I have no affection at all for the signed hardback. My love for the book is tied up with that original copy. I should never really have bothered buying the signed hardback.

John Connolly - 03/06/2013


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