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The Lay of the Land Paperback – 18 Jun 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (18 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747585997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585992
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

`A massive, ruminative, poignant and cathartic novel ... it is a
masterly account of a modulating adult life ... astonishingly vivid' -- Independent on Sunday

`Engaging, brilliant, hugely sad and, of course, ultimately
uplifting. As with the other two, I'll read it again and again' -- William Leith, Evening Standard

`Sublime ... a richly textured, rolling and poetic voice' -- The Times

`The Lay of the Land confirms his status as one of the modern
American masters'
-- David Robson, Sunday Telegraph

`Wistful, bittersweet - and often very funny ... all the quiet
despairs and hopes of the human condition' -- Daily Telegraph

From the Publisher

This is the follow-up to Ford's most acclaimed novels, both
featuring Frank Bascombe: The Sportswriter and Independence Day.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas Cunliffe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
Lay of the Land is the third novel in which Richard Ford charts the life of Frank Bascombe. Frank is now in his fifties, and is a realtor (an estate agent) on the coast of New Jersey. He is in his second marriage and in the throes of what he calls the "Permanent Period", that stage of life where most things that can go wrong have already gone wrong, and where generally speaking things don't get messed up any more - at least in the catastrophic way that earlier stages are subject too.

Needless to say, the Permanent Period turns out to be no protection from family squalls and rifts, and even second marriages, seemingly so settled can go badly and unexpectedly wrong. And then there's always prostate cancer, to make sure that Frank has to make adjustments to those areas of his life so far unaffected.

The charm of this novel, like its predecessors, is that nothing much happens. Frank is allowed to tell his story in his usual meandering way. A trip into town can give rise to pages of observations and reflections, somewhat in the way of W G Sebald, or even Marcel Proust. What makes this work is that Frank has a wondrously philosophical attitude to life, not one that insulates him from problems, but one which enables him to interpret them and live through them in an almost Buddhist way, where trouble is rarely confronted full on, but rather side-stepped and averted by Frank's huge tolerance and patience. The reader finds him/herself drifting along with Frank, and can find himself saying, hey, this approach might work with me too, if only I wasn't so uptight and frantic. Richard Ford has cast Frank's real-estate assistant as a Tibetan Buddhist immigrant, called (unusually) Mike Mahoney.
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Format: Paperback
Proof (if proof were needed) that Ford can be bracketed with Roth, Bellow and Updike as exponents of the extended 20th century Great American Novel. On meeting, Ford's southern charm is evident, but his famously prickly hubris and hauteur has made him less prolific than his forebears and contemporaries. Though his recent 'Women with Men' garnered deservedly mixed reviews, here, with the effort evident on each page, Ford delivers one of the most enjoyable and insightful books of the last decade. There is an original use of language and phraseology, a modernity which to some extent alienates us from his 60ish narrator but distances Ford from his competition.

Frank (ex-'Sportswriter') Bascombe is not - as Ford rightly denies - an alter ego, though both live on the East Coast and are comfortably late middle-aged. Frank now is seriously wealthy, rocketing property prices inflating the value of both his NJ shore real estate business and his own ocean view mansion. Counterpointing this are continuing unresolved issues, this novel being set (like the Faulkner / Pulitzer winning 'Independence Day') around a traditional holiday where Frank's age and sentimentalism augurs a crisis.

Frank's prolonged internal soliloquy takes up most of the wordage. It contains some of the most sublime self-consciousness, and self-deception. He is successful, gung-ho and energetic. Money is made and lost almost carelessly. But while he has a peripatetic business partner, his life partners are estranged, and his children distant and bewildering. His failing health is a critical subtext: Frank has prostate cancer (treatable).
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Format: Hardcover
Proof (if proof were needed) that Ford can be bracketed with Roth, Bellow and Updike as exponents of the extended 20th century Great American Novel. On meeting, Ford's southern charm is evident, but his famously prickly hubris and hauteur has made him less prolific than his forebears and contemporaries. Though his recent 'Women with Men' garnered deservedly mixed reviews, here, with the effort evident on each page, Ford delivers one of the most enjoyable and insightful books of the last decade. There is an original use of language and phraseology, a modernity which to some extent alienates us from his 60ish narrator but distances Ford from his competition.

Frank (ex-'Sportswriter') Bascombe is not - as Ford rightly denies - an alter ego, though both live on the East Coast and are comfortably late middle-aged. Frank now is seriously wealthy, rocketing property prices inflating the value of both his NJ shore real estate business and his own ocean view mansion. Counterpointing this are continuing unresolved issues, this novel being set (like the Faulkner / Pulitzer winning 'Independence Day') around a traditional holiday where Frank's age and sentimentalism augurs a crisis.

Frank's prolonged internal soliloquy takes up most of the wordage. It contains some of the most sublime self-consciousness, and self-deception. He is successful, gung-ho and energetic. Money is made and lost almost carelessly. But while he has a peripatic business partner, his life partners are estranged, and his children distant and bewildering. His failing health is a critical subtext: Frank has prostate cancer (treatable).
Read more ›
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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