The Sportswriter by Richard Ford is a book written from just an Ordinary Joe's point of view. Usually when I read books from a man's point of view it's the enlightened man, the sensitive man, the artsy man or the crazy man that I read from, rarely is it an ordinary man with ordinary problems and ordinary points of view on life. Frank Bascombe, a one time successful short story writer, now a sportswriter is recovering from a couple of significant losses in his life. Frankly, I picked up the book because I was interested in reading Independence Day which won the Pulitzer, but I found out that Independence Day was the sequel to The Sportswriter, and so of course I had to read The Sportswriter first.
It was difficult for me to get into this book. Frank's voice was hard for me to connect with, though I suspected, and I was very right, that my hubby whom I lent the book to immediately after I was done with it connected with the voice quite well. In other words, it's very strongly a male voice. Frank's way of looking at things to me often seemed distant and numbed. There were times he'd lightly mention in an almost off-handed manner hugely significant tragedies in his life. Frank's a no drama, no fuss kind of guy and dealt with his emotions by walling them off. He reached outwards of himself to deal with his pain and to numb himself even more to those he really loved. It was frustrating sometimes reading from his voice, you get the strong urge to knock him on the side of his head and yell "Wake up from your stupid 'dreaminess'!! You're going to lose it all!" But it is already done and now Frank is trying to sift through his ruined life and to make meaning from it.
The book is well written, I sensed who Frank is and felt the book tinged with this inner sadness that while Frank never discussed the sadness directly, you felt it, and that is powerful writing. I also felt that Ford brought out the 80's strongly in this book, sometimes distractingly, but he writes with strong details to the extent that he described in detail what every female character wore! Sometimes I really wondered if a guy like Frank would really notice the fabric in which the shirt of his girlfriend was made of! Nonetheless, the details overall enrich the book, even if at times they were a bit much and even though the big shocking ending was easily predictable, Ford still made it interesting enough to make it worth the read.
I can't say it wasn't well written or an interesting story, but with my difficulty in connecting with the story it made the book more or less something I felt I wanted to get through in order to just finish it. I have already bought Independence Day since I really read The Sportswriter to read it and am hoping that the story flows better and that I am able to connect with Frank more than I did with The Sportswriter. Not a bad read, and I do get the sense that men would connect with it better than I did. I'll let you know what I think of its sequel.
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