Independence Day, the novel that won Richard Ford the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner, is a bittersweet, albeit short, journey through the midlife critical week in the life of Frank Bascombe. Frank is divorced from his wife, who has since moved on and remarried a snobbish twit. He has become disconnected from his son Paul, who exhibits a wealth of antisocial behaviors far beyond the typical adolescent rebelliousness of young males. Frank is watching the dying flames of a once promising romance die away and struggling at alternately being a middling success as a real estate agent, a landlord of low cost housing and a small business entrepreneur.
The story is crowded with of personalities, life issues and internal struggles. The whole story revolves around Frank's desire to find common ground with his son in hopes a permanent custody of him while touring several sports halls of fame around the northeastern U.S. At the same time, he must face his ex-wife and her issues, deal with a frustrating couple seeking real estate in his home town in NJ, agonize over the end of his relationship with his girlfriend, tinker with his new start up hot dog stand business and try to maintain a civil relationship with the deadbeat tenants of his realty property.
The balancing act is exhausting for Frank and for the reader, but Mr. Ford is a skilled and intelligent writer. Mr. Ford gives the reader the freedom to view Frank and his life with awe, sympathy, frustration, animosity and humor.
This report prepared by David Fletcher