Richard Ford’s “Frank Bascombe” trilogy:
The Sportswriter introduces Frank Bascombe to literature and the public. Frank is a sportswriter and once-upon-a-time short story writer who just didn’t have another book in him. His first-person narrative story of post-divorce, post-death-of-his-son, and now-into-the-crypto-solitary existence life gives a fine portrayal of American existence.
Independence Day continues with Frank Bascombe, five years on, coming to terms with his son’s weirdness, his ex-wife remarried, his own ongoing romance and near-to-failing relationship. But now Frank is a real estate agent, a father trying to reconnect with his teenage son, and trying to just hold LIFE together.
The Lay of the Land is Frank Bascombe at his Permanent Existence, aged 56 now, wealthy but still with the same existential problems, only updated by the times, his adult children, a second marriage temperamentally on the skids, and the trouble of seeing death in the face.
All synopses aside, Ford’s writing is tight, shows brilliance for word choice and sentence invention, with a character who is both sardonic and true, comic and insightful. With Ford, also, there is no such thing as the mundane discription of home, highway, personal habits of people, or thoughts on myriad subjects.