A visionary account of American life --and the long-awaited sequel to one of the most celebrated novels of the past decade-- Independence Day reveals a man and our country with unflinching comedy and the specter of hope and even permanence, all of which Richard Ford evokes with keen intelligence, perfect emotional pitch and a voice invested with absolute authority.
Frank Bascombe is no longer a sportswriter, yet he's still living in Haddam, New Jersey, where he now sells real estate. He's still divorced, though his ex-wife, to his dismay, has remarried and moved, along with their two children, to Connecticut. (He bought her old house and made it his home.) In the midst of his so-called Existence Period, Frank is happy enough in his peculiar way, more or less sheltered from fresh pain and searing regret.
And he has high hopes for this 4th of July weekend (while the nation lurches toward another election, Bush vs. Dukakis, in uncertain prosperity). As a Realtor he's seeking a house and a life's accommodation for deeply hapless clients relocating from Vermont; in his free time he takes pride in managing his entrepreneurial, and civic, sidelines. Then he will travel to the Jersey Shore, where his girlfriend and delight awaits him. Finally, up the Northeast Corridor, to Connecticut, there to pick up his larcenous and emotionally troubled teenage son, and together they will visit as many sports halls of fame as they can in two days.
But Frank's Independence Day turns out not as he'd planned. This decent, appealingly bewildered, profoundly observant man is wrenched, gradually and inevitably, out of his private refuge. And in this embattled ascent Richard Ford captures the mystery of life --in all its conflicted glory-- with grand humor, intense compassion and transfixing power.
Jacket Art and Copy Courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.