Cover image for Let me be Frank with you
Let me be Frank with you
Ford, Richard, 1944- , author.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2014]

Physical Description:
240 pages ; 24 cm.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Frank Bascombe travels to the site of his former home on the shore, visits his ex-wife, who is suffering with Parkinson's, and meets a dying former friend.

Ford reinvents Bascombe in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In four richly luminous narratives, Bascombe attempts to reconcile, interpret and console a world undone by calamity. It is a moving and wondrous and extremely funny odyssey through the America people live in at this moment.
I'm here -- Everything could be worse -- The new normal -- Deaths of others.
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A brilliant new work that returns Richard Ford to the celebrated fictional landscape that sealed his reputation as an American master: the world of Frank Bascombe

In his trio of critically acclaimed, bestselling novels; The Sportswriter, the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/ Faulkner-winning Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land; Richard Ford, in essence, illuminated the zeitgeist of an entire generation, through the divinings and wit of his now-famous literary chronicler, Frank Bascombe, who is certainly one of the most indelible, provocative, and anticipated characters in modern American literature.

Here, in Let Me Be Frank With You, Ford returns with four deftly linked stories narrated by the iconic Bascombe. Now sixty-eight, and again ensconced in the well-defended New Jersey suburb of Haddam, Bascombe has thrived seemingly if not utterly; in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy's devastation. As in all of the Bascombe books, Ford's guiding spirit is the old comic's maxim that promises if nothing's funny, nothing's truly serious. The desolation of Sandy, which rendered houses, shorelines, and countless lives unmoored and flattened, could scarcely be more serious as the grist for fiction. Yet it is the perfect backdrop and touchstone for Ford; and Bascombe. With a flawless comedic sensibility and unblinking intelligence, these stories range over the full complement of American subjects: aging, race, loss, faith, marriage, redemption, the real-estate crash; the tumult of the world we live in.

Through Bascombe;, profane, touching, wise, and often inappropriate; we engage in the aspirations and sorrows, longings, achievements, and failings of American life in the morning of the new century. With his trademark candor and brimming wit, Richard Ford brings Bascombe fully back, in all his imperfect glory, to say (often hilariously) what all of us are thinking but few will voice aloud.

Whether you've been a Bascombe insider since The Sportswriter or are encountering Ford's unforgettable inventions newly here, Let Me Be Frank With You is a moving, wondrous, extremely funny odyssey, showcasing the maturity and brilliance of a great writer working at the top of his talents.

Author Notes

He was born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1944 & grew up there & in Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated from Michigan State University & received an M. F. A. in 1970 from the University of California at Irvine. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts & American Academy of Arts & Letters Award for Literature. He was also given the 1994 Rea Award. In 2001 he was awarded the PEN/Malamud prize. He made The New York Times Best Seller List for his title's Canada and Let Me Be Frank with You. He was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with his title, Let Me Be Frank With You.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* This cleverly titled set of four novellas narrated by Ford's signature character, Frank Bascombe, is caustically hilarious, warmly philosophical, and emotionally lush. After appearing in three novels The Sportswriter (1986), Independence Day (1995), and The Lay of the Land (2006) Frank is 68, retired from selling real estate, contentedly married to his compassionate if brusque second wife, and wryly cognizant of the expected shackles and surprising liberations of age. But his tenuous equanimity is put to the test in the disorienting aftermath of Hurricane Sandy during intense and unforeseen encounters, each associated with a residence bristling with memories. Frank meets an old friend at the Jersey shore, where the storm destroyed the beach house Frank sold him. A woman who grew up in Frank's house returns to see it for the first time, revealing its horrific history. Frank dutifully visits his ex-wife in a state-of-the-art staged-care facility and makes another reluctant pilgrimage to see a dying friend in the hideously overdecorated mansion he sold him long ago. In each neatly linked tale, Frank ruminates misanthropically, wittily, and wisely about love, family, friendship, race, politics, and the mystery of the self. Can he truly be Frank with others? Can he be honest? LikeFrank, Ford, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence for Canada (2013), certainly is incisively frank, forensically observant, and covertly tender. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The word is out: Frank is back, and best-selling Ford will be touring the country backed by a muscular multimedia and online campaign.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Frank Bascombe, the protagonist of The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land, continues to reflect on the meaning of existence in these four absorbing, funny, and often profound novellas. The collection is set in New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, in the weeks leading up to Christmas 2012. Frank considers the evanescence of life as he travels to the site of his former home on the shore; has an unsettling experience with a black woman whose family once lived in his present home in fictional Haddam; visits his prickly ex-wife, who is suffering from Parkinson's, in an extended-care institution; and meets a dying former friend. At 68, Frank feels "old"¿; his bout with prostate cancer has convinced him that he's in the "Default Period of life."¿ Intimations of mortality ("the bad closing in"¿) permeate his musings, recounted in an unadorned, profane, vernacular that conveys his witty, cynical voice. Frank's cranky comments and free-flowing meditations about current social and political events are slyly juxtaposed with references to Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Trollope, Emerson, Milton, and others. Despite Frank's dyspeptic outlook, Ford packs in a surprising amount of affirmation and redemption. Readers who met Frank in Ford's earlier novels will quickly reconnect with his indelible personality. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. Ford returns to his best-known character, Frank Bascombe, first introduced in The Sportswriter, in four linked novellas that explore the state of Frank's life and that of the larger world in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Set on the Jersey Shore just before Christmas 2012, these stories find Frank, now 68 and retired from the real estate business, ruminating on age, loss, and the sense of decline he feels in himself and in the world. "I'm Here," for instance, reflects on loss and resilience as Frank visits his former beach home, destroyed by the hurricane, in the company of its present owner. In "The New Normal," Frank brings a small gift (an orthopedic pillow) to his ex-wife, Ann, who is recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, at the continuing care facility in the town where she currently resides. The idea of a new, diminished normal pervades these deeply elegiac tales. Like John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom, Frank is a barometer of his times, and the times, as Ford sees them, are not good-as if Hurricane Sandy had blown back the curtains of everyday life to reveal truths about the ravages of aging, social decline, and climate change. VERDICT A notable addition-and perhaps coda-to Ford's "Frank Bascombe" trilogy; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 5/12/14.]-Lawrence Rungren, Andover, MA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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