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Independence Day [Kindle Edition]

Richard Ford
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
Kindle Price: £6.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

Frank Bascombe, in the aftermath of his divorce and the ruin of his career, has entered an 'Existence Period' - selling real estate in New Jersey and mastering the high-wire act of normalcy. But over one Fourth of July weekend, Frank is called into sudden, bewildering engagement with life. Independence Day is a moving, peerlessly funny odyssey through America and through the layered consciousness of one of its most compelling literary incarnations, conducted by a novelist of extraordinary empathy and perception.

Product Description


`It is nothing less than the story of the twentieth century itself
... an extraordinary epic' -- The Times

`Powerful ... gripping ... Ford has galvanised his reputation as
one of his generation's most eloquent voices' -- New York Times

`The best novel out of America in many years ... Simply, a
masterpiece' -- John Banville, Guardian

The Times

‘Eloquently, with awkward grace, in his two novels about an ordinary man, Ford has created an extraordinary epic’

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 897 KB
  • Print Length: 466 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks; 1 edition (4 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747585245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585244
  • ASIN: B0081V48DA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,138 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luminous 28 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
The sequel to The Sportwriter, Indepenence Day is better still and a worthy Pulitzer Prize winner. Frank Bascombe's story continues with his teenage son experiencing some psychological problems due probably to the trauma of his brother's death and his parent's marriage breakup. This however is not a downtrodden situation, but one luminous with hope and tenderness. Frank shows that you don't have to be a winner to contribute to humanity and that some failure may be valuable in trying to achieve a state of grace. This book will become a classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wouldn't give it any prizes 5 May 2014
By John
I'm afraid I have to support the minority with a thumbs down on this one. I discovered Richard Ford via Canada, which impressed me with its unusual plot and his sensitive handling of it, and I wanted more of his stuff. Unfortunately, Independence Day, albeit written 20 years earlier, is very different indeed and I'm annoyed I went and bought the whole damn trilogy (Independence Day is the second part).

I have no issue with the "plot", for want of a better word, which other reviewers have already summarized. As an account of a few days in the life of a middle-aged American divorcee it was reasonably interesting. It's just that what fills the book are the protagonist's endless musings and digressions. Some of these serve to deepen our understanding of this person's life but some of them get pretty philosophical and, I have to say, impenetrable in parts. While there's not a lot of dialog in the book, some of the conversations, particularly with the women in his life are in this vein. Although at least some of this is satire, I suppose, it does get very tedious. I finished it but I was tempted not to bother in parts.

Independence Day (as you might expect from the the title) is a very American book and is hard to identify with for a Brit like me - not a criticism of course, but an observation nonetheless. Written in the first-person about everyday life in contemporary USA it's littered with unfamiliar slang, jargon, references to celebs I've never heard of etc. Still, I've enjoyed many other books of this kind e.g. John Updike's Rabbit series, Richard Russo's Straight Man (brilliant, by the way).

I can imagine the Americanness of this book striking some kind of a chord with U.S. readers, but a Pulitzer Prize?
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary novel about living in the world 21 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This is an extraordinary book, about what it is to be alive. Ford's sheer level of skill in using the language is a delight; reading "Independence Day" will make you love words for themselves and where they can take you. The action occupies little more than a weekend, but encompasses an epic spiritual journey, told with pace, humour, and the razor-sharp observations of people, places and emotions. Everything about the narrator, Frank, his interior life and his external world, is touchably, touchingly real, and draws you inexorably into the novel from the very first page. The suburban setting and the ordinariness of [most of] the events makes Ford's handling of abstract ideas and huge issues of life, love and belief, utterly compelling and deeply moving.
Ford's most striking - and unusual - achievement in "Independence Day" is the astonishing compassion with which he treats characters, story and theme. There are no grotesques, no stereotypes, no over-simplifications; the author takes no intellectual, emotional or linguistic shortcuts. This is a rich book, honest, entertaining, satisfying, and ultimately profoundly optimistic. Don't be put off by the length!
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4.0 out of 5 stars More Mid-Life Musings 26 Nov. 2012
The second in his trilogy of novels featuring anti-hero Frank Bascombe, 1996's Independence Day sees author Richard Ford continue in much the same vein as when we left Bascombe at the close of The Sportswriter. Time has moved on to 1986, Bascombe (now 44) has completed his divorce, is still struggling to relate to his adolescent son and daughter, has a (sometime) girlfriend Sally and has ditched his writing aspirations and career in favour of a job in real estate. As in The Sportswriter, Ford's writing is skilfully observational, incisive and witty, whilst his scope here is again personal and, on the surface at least, parochial.

Over an extended Independence Day weekend, we follow Bascombe in his continued voyage of mid-life discovery and his attempts to resolve his own internal uncertainties, both in a personal and wider, social context. By placing Frank in one of the most despised of modern day capitalist milieus (real estate), Ford is able to brilliantly dissect the associated set of human shortcomings (class snobbery, racism, sexism) and the early passages of novel as Frank shows Vermont couple, the Markhams, around their potential new home are some of my favourites. Ford also continues to show his mastery of the (significant) chance encounter and those here with, variously, a rookie cop, a Negro removals man, a female chef and a long unseen relative are all brilliantly done.

Where, for me, the novel falls slightly short is in its dealings with Bascombe's family. Although the passages relating to Frank's dealings with his ex-wife and her new husband are frequently hilarious, the novel's central tragedy concerning son Paul does not have quite the emotional punch (or resolution) that I would expect it to. This is something I found on reading The Sportswriter, that Ford, whilst being an outstandingly communicator of tales of realism, does not (quite) have the emotive power of a (for instance) Cormac McCarthy or Richard Russo.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Never have so many words been expended... order to say so little. I would say that perhaps an editor should take a knife to it, but as there's not much of a plot, there wouldn't be much left afterwards. Read more
Published 1 month ago by A. Dekker
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroic
A masterful narrative of a middle-aged American who has been trying to help his troubled teenage son from a distance and is seemingly imprisoned by a yearning for reconciliation... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Fusionfan
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
i tried but it bored me
Published 4 months ago by tracy gallagher
5.0 out of 5 stars they love
bought as a present. they love it
Published 5 months ago by Glenn Neaves
4.0 out of 5 stars I thought this was a very good sequel of sorts to 'The Sportswriter
I thought this was a very good sequel of sorts to 'The Sportswriter.' Frank Bascome is an engaging character and the story is well written and arced. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars don't like the style of
Not for me, don't like the style of writing
Published 7 months ago by David G Wilkes
1.0 out of 5 stars but I found it boring beyond belief
Pulitzer prize it may have won, but I found it boring beyond belief. Certainly a good picture of small-town America but too much overwhelming detail and harping on every topic... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Susan Taylor
3.0 out of 5 stars realistically frustrating
The book is a relatively easy read and, whilst it does not keep you on the edge of your seat (it is not that kind of novel), it keeps you interested throughout. Read more
Published 17 months ago by CMA
5.0 out of 5 stars The best novel I've read in more than a decade
An outstanding novel, most marvellously written. It describes the narcissistic failures of fatherhood (especially towards their sons) and how the promise of the young can be... Read more
Published 20 months ago by P A Glees
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Ford is a genius at making the common place absorbing . After 400 pages you feel you know Frank Bascombe like a brother
Published on 8 Dec. 2012 by Art
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