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My Back Pages- Catching Up on Some old Richard Ford Edition

July 1, 2012

You can tell this is an early novel as it wears its influences on its sleeve (a bit too much).
The Hemingway comparisons abound almost everywhere.
However you can’t deny the brilliance of the writing which in places truly is like a red hot crystal rock perfectly symmetrical and radiating a searing white light.
The opening chapter is such an example.

Still it seems Ford has a hard time sustaining that kind of energy and existential angst for 200 pages.
At times the hard boiled existentialism cloaked in Hemingway-like telegraphed language has a dark and honest truth to it while at other times it almost seems a parody of a pulpy detective novel or over the top film noir.
Finally the characters themselves are never fully fleshed out (which may be the point if Ford could maintain the sense of futility and dread throughout). You never really know why Rae stays with Quinn or even her feelings for her brother Sonny (which seem to never be developed) which make you wonder why she would risk so much to get him out of prison to begin with.
This is a good novel for Ford enthusiasts ( I count myself as one) and those wanting to read some truly amazing sentences constructed like the skeletal framework of a small cathedral not yet built.
It’s pretty amazing his next work would be the fully realized masterpiece that is The Sportswriter.

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