I have tried to read Richard Ford’s “The Sportswriter” on a few occasions and have not be able to get into it. His short stories have been recommended to me, and after reading Andre Dubus III’s glowing review of Ford’s new book, I may have to give him another shot:
Willa Cather once wrote that “a creative writer can do his best only with what lies within the range and character of his deepest sympathies.” By that measure, and any other, Richard Ford is doing his very best in his extraordinary new novel, “Canada,” his first book since “The Lay of the Land” six years ago. Here, Ford is clearly writing within the range and character of his deepest sympathies — in this case, from the point of view of an abandoned 15-year-old boy — and he’s doing it with a level of linguistic mastery that is rivaled by few, if any, in American letters today.
…On a purely plot-hungry basis, turning the page seems the only thing to do, but — as is so often the case with the fiction of Richard Ford — what actually happens in the story feels secondary, or at best equal, to the language itself. In the hands of a lesser writer, this can create problems: the prose begins to feel self-indulgent, written not to illuminate any truths but to please the writer, and in the process, story itself is lost and the reader is left behind. But “Canada” is blessed with two essential strengths in equal measure — a mesmerizing story driven by authentic and fully realized characters, and a prose style so accomplished it is tempting to read each sentence two or three times before being pulled to the next.
Here’s the Paris Review interview with Ford. Dig in.