Published to coincide with Richard Ford's debut hardback for Bloomsbury, The Lay of the Land By the internationally renowned winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction
Richard Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1944. He has published five novels and three collections of stories, including The Sportswriter, Independence Day, Wildlife, A Multitude of Sins and most recently The Lay of the Land. Independence Day was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
Set in Montana, this precisely structured novel owes much to the style and subjects of Ford's praised short-story collection, Rock Springs . For a few days during the fall of 1960, 16-year-old Joe confronts his parents' frailties when his father loses his job and takes off to fight forest fires near the Canadian border while his mother begins an affair with an older man. Looking back on a not-so-simple love triangle from the perspective of adulthood, yet recalling his emotions as a sensitive, confused teenager, Joe's first-person narrative beautifully reveals the melancholy and pain of the spectacle he observed and was compelled to involve himself in--grown-ups who behave like children, children who are forced to act like adults--and displays Ford's remarkable ability to capture distinctive voices. While the complex relationships within families are a common theme in his work--along with the self-destructiveness of those whose lives and loves have gone bad, and the pressing need to live without illusions--his short, bittersweet fourth novel details how family strife is ``nature's way,'' and again proves Ford to be a gifted chronicler of the down-and-out. (June)
'Among the very best American fiction is that of Richard Ford, who with only three novels and a volume of short stories, has established himself as a writer whose voice illuminates the lives of people who live at the very edge of society ... A special delight in all Ford's writing is the muscular poetry of his prose' Independent 'Hemingway updated and outwritten by a bleak but kindly master of simple words that speak volumes' Mail on Sunday 'Wildlife is a fine novel by a fine writer. At times it brought to mind David Byrne's movie about another American Nowheresville, True Stories, a movie which, like Ford's book, observes the human animal with friendship, understanding and an almost clinical detachment' Independent on Sunday 'Every sentence Ford writes, illuminates. He makes you understand what life is like for people whose daily expectation is that their smallest hopes will be snatched away from them. His prose is strong, clear and satisfying' Sunday Times
Narrated by son Joe, a teenager at the time of the events, this well-written tale takes place in 1960 Montana. Wealthy businessman Warren Miller plays golf with teaching pro Jerry Brinson at a private Great Falls country club. When Jerry loses his job at the club, Miller starts taking swimming lessons from Jerry's wife, Jeanette, at the YWCA. Jerry and Jeanette, a handsome, athletic couple in their late 30s, are both headed for midlife troubles. Seeking to prove his manhood, Jerry joins a firefighting crew battling a blaze in the nearby mountains. Left behind, Jeanette falls into bed with an eager Warren Miller. By the author of A Piece of My Heart (LJ 12/1/76), The Sportswriter , and Rock Springs, this excellent short novel, while gently and reflectively told, is ultimately a devastating account of one family's destruction. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/90.-- James B . Hemesath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.