Last night, I laid down the third of Richard Ford’s novels about his suburban anti-hero with a sigh of satisfaction. The Lay of the Land (2006) follows on from The Sportswriter (1986) and Independence Day (1995). The books not only share their narrator and central character, Frank Bascombe, and follow his life over a span of around twenty years from his thirties to his fifties, but they each do so by being structured around the events of one short period of time – the Easter weekend; America’s Independence Day in July; and Thanksgiving – but allow Bascombe not only to review, reminisce and reflect on his own life but also to document, describe and dissect suburban America as it is to be found in that fascinating state, New Jersey.
In alphabetical order of authors, I am posting the details every day, over twelve days, of my booker’s dozen best reads last year. As ever, the year has been one of delightful discoveries and occasional disappointments. A major personal discovery was the writing of an American writer. Richard Ford wrote the sixth of my twelve choices.
Prompted by Hilary Mantel’s successes with the first two volumes of her projected trilogy on the life and times of Thomas Cromwell, and the possibility of laying a bet that she will win a third Booker Prize in two or three years time, I looked back over several of the literary trilogies I have enjoyed over the years.