Customer Reviews for

The Lay of the Land (Frank Bascombe Series #3)

Average Rating 4
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2008

    Highly Impressive

    This is the second novel of Richard Ford's I have read, the first being 'A Multitude of Sins.' After reading a couple novels of Mr. Ford's it is safe to say he is one of the most talented writers of his generation What Mr. Ford manages to do with this story is provide the readers with characters who have depth, pathos that never fail, and a narrative that succesfully rides the line of humor and ordinary tragedy. My one major complaint with this story comes from the length-485 pages is a bit long-nonetheless Mr. Ford's talent with writing always kept me turning to the next page. The word 'epic' has been used to describe this novel, and I believe it fits perfectly. It's an epic tale of the struggles that come with being alive.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2006

    Ford Strikes Literary Gold--Again!

    In 1989, America¿s TV viewing public was introduced to ¿Seinfeld,¿ a sitcom that despite its premise as a ¿show about nothing,¿ turned out to be a series about everything, no matter how mundane, that touched the lives of its central cast, and captured the public¿s imagination by reflecting the neurosis many experience in their everyday life. While viewers may have thought the premise new and revolutionary at the time, other mediums had touched upon the concept with varying degrees of success. In the literary world, perhaps the most notable was Richard Ford¿s critically acclaimed 1986 novel ¿The Sportswriter,¿ featuring protagonist Frank Bascombe, followed by his 1996 Pulitzer and Penn Faulkner award winning sequel, ¿Independence Day.¿ Now, 10 years later, Ford has struck literary gold once again with the third act of Bascombe¿s life in ¿The Lay of the Land,¿ a stirring and emotionally charged novel on the closing chapters of one man¿s life whose everyday actions are not noteworthy when examined bit by bit, but become utterly fascinating when viewed in its totality. Set in the uncertainties of mid-November 2000, highlighted by a presidential election filled with hanging chads, a concession and retraction of defeat, lawyers, judges, court rulings, Katherine Harris, and finally, a Supreme Court ruling, Ford takes us on the back-end ride of a life journey that, like the election¿s outcome, is more influenced by outside events despite valiant attempts to control one¿s own destiny. As with Ford¿s previous two Bascombe novels, this one takes place during a holiday¿Thanksgiving¿which for our everyman protagonist is a time of introspect and search for clarity in a daily life filled with monotonous decisions, family matters, and an illness that required bodily insertions of radioactive pellets to cure a prostrate cancer that may be the beginning of the end. In spite of his cancer, Bascombe is now enjoying success as a realtor in New Jersey, which means others are making the rounds for him, allowing him too much time to ponder his life¿s existence and to contemplate the continued turmoil that swirls family, friends and situations together into a smorgasbord of every day stories in what he calls his ¿Permanent Period,¿ a stage in life where you are what you are you¿re no longer working at trying to become someone you¿re not. It¿s that time in life when you realize that best intentions are just that, intentions that in no way will ever become reality. ¿When you first buy by the ocean you¿re positive you¿ll take a morning dip every single day, and that life will be commensurately happier, last longer, you¿ll be jollier¿the old pump getting a fresh prime at about the hour many are noticing the first symptoms of their myocardial infarct. Only you don¿t.¿ For people who are afforded the opportunity to grow old, the dawning of one¿s twilight years may be the opportunity to put one last positive spin on a life that has spun without rhyme or reason. For Bascombe, it¿s an opportunity to sort through who he was, quietly marvel at what he¿s become, and to prepare himself mentally for the road ahead that he now grudgingly trudges towards with unwavering honestly and a dose of good humor. ¿The Lay of the Land¿ is an exceptional work by a gifted writer who has earned the right to be considered an American literary treasure. The novel is destined to be a strong contender for major book awards and is sure to be found in every ¿Top 10 Books of 2006¿ list.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I can't think of a character who's inner life I connect with mor

    I can't think of a character who's inner life I connect with more closely than Frank Bascombe at 55; this, in spite of not having a single thing in common with him. Having read The Sportswriter and Independence Day, I already liked Frank and was ready for whatever came next. Ford conveyed his character's basic decency, empathy and acceptance of everything life can throw at you, wrapped in beautifully rendered prose. His wit, charm and humor carried me along and kept me reflecting on all the reasons to be content with a perfectly ordinary life. Richard Ford's stories and characters stay with you long after the last page is turned.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2010

    VERY LITTLE PLOTTING.....A LOT OF PLODDING

    Richard Ford's technique of basically breaking down the main characters life into an almost real-time, minute-by-minute description of what they are thinking, feeling or observing is interesting at first but for the reader soon becomes a boring plod.

    I have enjoyed his other works but this one seemed forced.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A deep humorous yet serious character study

    It is Thanksgiving 2000 in Haddam, New Jersey and fifty-five realtor Frank Bascombe has more issues than the presidential contest that might get resolved by the ¿04 election (the presidency that is), but definitely before his do. Frank mulls over the irony of life. His second wife the widow Sally Caldwell left him for her very much alive first husband. Frank¿s first wife Ann Dykstra is now a widow and looking to go back to him.----------------- Franks has other bigger issues than a second chance with his first wife becoming his third spouse bigger than the issues of his twenty something year old offspring Paul and Clarissa (from his first marriage) whose complexities are better off ignored by him. As he sells homes and beach cottages with his partner a Tibetan Buddhist expatriate Mike Mahoney, Frank learns he has prostate cancer. This brings him no sympathy from his family as they make him as usual the stuffing for the long Turkey weekend.--------------------- Every decade or so, Richard Ford treats readers with the latest happenings in the life of Frank Bascombe (see THE SPORTSWRITER and INDEPENDENCE DAY). Frank has learned relationships no matter how long they are do not last as sh*t happens. This time he takes a beating over the extended holiday weekend, but as he always has whether he was covering sports, selling real estate, or watching marriages dissolve he placidly ignores the jabs. Instead he is more concerned about the end of the Clinton era with the country either going to be gored or just bushed. Still he looks back seeking answers whether he should have settled for comfort or taken the risk for pleasure as life is short. As always with Frank, readers obtain a deep humorous yet serious character study.----------------- Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 31, 2014

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    Posted August 7, 2010

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    Posted July 7, 2010

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    Posted March 5, 2010

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    Posted April 22, 2010

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    Posted April 9, 2011

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