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Sportswriter [Paperback]

Richard Ford
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 July 1996
At dawn on Good Friday every year, Frank Bascombe and his wife meet to pay their respects at the grave of their firstborn. This year Frank plans to spend the Easter weekend with a new girlfriend while on assignment for his magazine. What might have been an idyllic adventure becomes a succession of calamities that extinguish almost all the carefully nourished equilibrium of a man grappling with the failure of love and the death of his son. The end and the aftermath of a marriage, the emotional dislocation and the discovery of a new life while in the embrace of troubled memories of the old have seldom been more harrowingly plotted. The Sportswriter is also a wistful, very funny and always human illumination of domestic and sexual anguish through the story of Frank Bascombe, its hero, the sportswriter.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (4 July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099447096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099447092
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,737,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Richard Ford’s sportswriter is a rare bird in life and nearly extinct in fiction’ -- Tobias Wolfe

‘A devastating chronicle of contemporary alienation’ -- New York Times

‘Ford is a masterful writer’ -- Raymond Carver

‘Richard Ford is one of the best writers in America. Potentially the very best’ -- Gordon Burn

‘This remarkable elegiac novel contemplates the desperate sadness of life with a profound and humorous dignity. It is an original and admirable achievement’ -- Evening Standard

About the Author

Richard Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1944. He has published five novels and two previous collections of stories. His novel Independence Day was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and, two weeks later, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the first time the same book had won both prizes.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sportswriter 15 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback
Don't be put off by the title: this isn't really a book about sport or sportswriting. It's one of the greatest first-person-narrator novels of all time. The first of Richard Ford's astonishing Frank Bascombe books, this is perhaps a slightly conventional novel than its successors, Independence Day and The Lay Of The Land, but it's no less powerful.

If you are a sensitive human being you will be able to read this and see the world through Frank's weary, downtrodden but somehow optimisic eyes. You will also feel you are less alone on the planet. It's funny, sad, poignant and uplifting stuff.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's better the second time around 7 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
There's little about sport or the craft of the sportswriter in this book and my biggest challenge has been to convince women that they should read it. But if you are female, I recommend this book particularly, as I thought it a rare and revealing journey through a man's confusion about the loss of love and relationship.
The first time I read this book, I enjoyed it. I had just divorced and the main character's (Frank Bascombe) struggle to reconcile himself to his new state resonated for me.
Years later, in the throes of a happy and fulfilling relationship, I re-read `The Sportswriter' and found new pleasure in it. I think that Ford creates an uncomfortable character, infuriatingly self-reflective and inert at times. In this sense, Bascombe becomes an anti-hero, challenging the reader to examine his or her own condition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes people ask me this: 7 Sep 2013
By Ryan Williams VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'If you could meet a fictional character, who would it be? Stephen Dedalus, Emma Bovary, Nick Adams?'

My answer is always the same: Frank Bascombe. He is the narrator of this novel, and appears in two further instalments, the second of which, Independence Day, won the Pulitzer Prize.

Of these, this one is my enduring favourite. Tautly expressed and realistic, it also glows with that rare thing: genuine, unforced optimism.

It came at a markedly bleak time for Ford. He had given up fiction after poor sales for his first two books, and gone to work covering sports. The magazine folded: its successor failed to hire him. An infamous editor, much esteemed at the time, urged Ford 'to stick to writing about Montana'.

Fortunately, he overcame all these obstacles, and made his first big splash with the result. Not to be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
It seemed somehow apt that I found my copy of THE SPORTSWRITER in a charity shop - the 1996 Harvill Panther edition with the monochrome cover and the stark typeface. Indeed, it was the cover that grabbed me - I had never heard of Richard Ford or Frank Bascombe; the second of whose adventures, INDEPENDENCE DAY, won the 1996 Pulitzer.

Narrative-wise, the premise is simple - Frank is a thirty-eight year-old man (the titular sportswriter) trying to make his way in the world in the wake of bereavement and, latterly, divorce. The book is essentially a first-person monologue - great chunks of which are internal ruminations and observations - framed by 'normal' events: a trip to Detroit with his new girlfriend, Easter Sunday lunch with her family, numb conversations with his ex-wife and maritime sojourns with the Divorced Men's Club. Frank struggles to find meaning in everyday mundanity, and soldiers on; trying to be positive and find reasons to go on.

That said, Frank is not given to melodrama - themes of death, aging, identity, success and failure are handled delicately, and his own failures (his marriage, his novel, the loss of his son) are dealt with internally and almost matter-of-factly. He craves neither attention nor sympathy, and the undercurrents of despair and melancholy that lace his words remain exactly that - perhaps partly because throughout the course of the book we seem to meet people who are worse off than he is.

Aside from interviewing a disabled former pro-ball star, Frank seems to perform precious little in the way of sportswriting, but that is the point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Studied Reflections On Life 18 Jun 2012
By Keith M TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Richard Ford's 1986 novel The Sportswriter is a small-scale, philosophical tale of (largely, self-) refection as told by its narrator, failed novelist, and now sportswriter, Frank Bascombe (a career path which Ford himself followed). I have just re-read the book, 15 years after my first pass, and my view now is that Ford has written a brilliantly accurate and insightful account of the modern human condition, full of confused ambition, fragile relationships and unrequited love. My only real reservation with the book is that it is full of (in the main, essentially) unsympathetic characters (Bascombe included) and, whilst this may well add to the sense of realism portrayed, at the end of the novel I was left somewhat unmoved (or certainly not as drawn into Ford's world as I would have wished). The other thing to note for would-be readers is that the book is slow-paced and, with one notable exception, is almost devoid of major incident (for me, not a problem per se) and that, whilst the principal character is indeed a sports journalist, this subject matter occupies (I would say) less than 10% of the narrative.

Ford's Frank Bascombe is a thirty-something divorcee, father of three (one, Ralph, now deceased), and living in the small-town of Haddam, New Jersey. Frank's view of his ex-wife (and women more generally?) is neatly summed up by his simply referring to her throughout the novel as 'X', although, despite this, he clearly still feels the remnants of his past affection for her (and for his son and daughter who live with X).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
A great book by a great writer. Surprisingly, I know people that don't like this book; they have no taste.
Published 1 month ago by MR
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
I heard a book review on BBC Radio 4 and got this as a result. Not as good as the reviewers made it out to be (they never are) but I still enjoyed it and read it in only two goes. Read more
Published 3 months ago by George Formby
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sportswriter
The Sportswriter: Excellent book fascinating study into the effects and affects of losing a child. I am certainly going to buy the next volume.
Published 16 months ago by docM
2.0 out of 5 stars Abandoned
I am having difficulty with this book and have not read very far in to it. I am finding the story weak and have no sympathy with the main character; I shall go back to it in... Read more
Published 17 months ago by bighorsehill
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable reading for long night.
We have purchased this with 2 more of his works. This is one of his popular writings, and we have enjoyed throughly. Good to have long wintery night for reading pleasure.
Published 17 months ago by Adlerinternational
2.0 out of 5 stars tedious
I bought this book after hearing a fairly favourable review on the radio, although, to be fair, the review panel was not unanimous in its praise. Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2012 by lesharris
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreary dull and HARD work
Oh Dear I read a good review in the Telegraph about Richard Ford.

I had never heard of him

So I ordered this

What a disappointment The hero was... Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2011 by Ronald Ellis
3.0 out of 5 stars He's no Updike
Some people have compared Richard Ford to John Updike and having just read "The Sportswriter", I can see why. Read more
Published on 24 Nov 2011 by Rusty
5.0 out of 5 stars READ IT!
This is not a book about a sportswriter. It is a book about an ordinary man, in an ordinary job and life who is working through bereavement of marraige, loss of son and the fog he... Read more
Published on 13 Jun 2011 by Mrs. Elaine Davies
1.0 out of 5 stars Twenty times too long
This novel reads like a fine Raymond Carver short story, but padded up endlessly with repetition and unnecessary detail in order to make it twenty times longer than it ought to be. Read more
Published on 2 May 2011 by Philip S. Walker
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