Friday, February 02, 2007

Book Review: The Lay of the Land

The Lay of The Land by Richard Ford

In the recent Bat Segundo interview Richard Ford said, "You have to love long sentences." Indeed, to appreciate this novel it helpful to enjoy reading long, divergent sentences. His narrator, Frank Bascombe, has a wandering mind, but one that also is rich with information. But not just information--analysis as well. Frank, it appears, has an opinion on everything. The things around him, from the street signs to the changing landscape to, of course, the media, move him. So much so that things, like the undecided 2000 Presidential election, weigh on him heavily. He has a lot of reason, though, to be contemplative.

I like long sentences. I like contemplation. This does not mean, though, that this was an easy book to get through. While I don't mind the minutiae, like some reviewers, what I do mind is randomness as a plot point. I'll leave out the details here for those of you who might make it over 300 pages through the book, but after calmly following Frank along as his "Permanent Period" beginning to falter, to have his fortune decided by a random act was a little frustrating.

It is amusing, though, that this doesn't really keep me from liking the book. I've given it a week, and I know that this book will linger. I know that the book made me think, made me laugh, and frustrated me. It won't make the list of the best book I read this year, but I'm glad I read it.

I felt similarly about Independence Day.

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