From the author of "Independence Day", Richard Ford edits and introduces this anthology for "Granta" which has become the most cited and authoritative collection of short stories on both sides of the Atlantic. Ford in his introduction discusses, among other things, the comment of Frank O'Connor that the short-story is handled so cleverly by Americans that it is our national art form
About The Author:Distinguished American writer Richard Ford is best known for a trilogy of prize-winning novels featuring one of the most unforgettable, deeply resonant characters in contemporary American fiction: Frank Bascombe, a middle-aged Everyman from suburban New Jersey.
Table Of Contents:IntroductionA Day in the Open1A Distant Episode11Blackberry Winter23O City of Broken Dreams44The Lottery62The View from the Balcony71No Place For You, My Love91The State of Grace109The Magic Barrel119Good Country People135In Time Which Made a Monkey of Us All154Sonny's Blues170Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time200Welcome to the Monkey House227In the Zoo244A Poetics for Bullies264Upon the Sweeping Flood281The Indian Uprising297In the Heart of the Heart of the Country303A Solo Song: For Doc328The Babysitter350City Boy376White Rat385Are These Actual Miles?393Train401Fugue in A Minor415Here Come the Maples423Pretty Ice434Testimony of Pilot440Greenwich Time463Lechery474Liars in Love482The Circling Hand514Territory527Bridging546Greasy Lake555The Rich Brother565American Express581The Joy Luck Club599The Fireman's Wife619Hot Ice641You're Ugly, Too669The Things They Carried688Acknowledgments707
A carefully wrought compilation that does credit to its rich subject.
Ford's choice of stories is exemplary. . . there's wonderful reading here.
Academic anthologies, no matter how massive, tend to paint literature with a broad and representative brush. ``Best-of'' collections may dabble exclusively and exhaustively in a particular decade or school. Happily, Granta 's compendium of recent stories by American writers is neither. Culled from work published since 1944--the year Ford ( Rock Springs ) was born--the more than 40 stories in this 700-plus-page volume are an idiosyncratic array with few common threads connecting them. Apart from the 1944 cutoff date, Ford's only criteria, stated in his quirky, thoughtful introduction, are that the entries be ``ones I like--stories that have altered my appreciation of what a short story might surprisingly contain or be about; stories that by their brilliance have seemed to sanction the entire endeavor of being a writer.'' A story can be almost anything in his book, and his notion of an American ``allows an American to be anyone who persuasively claims to be one.'' Ford's liberal aesthetic sweeps us from (to name a very few) the Bowleses, Wallace Stegner and Grace Paley through the pivotal work of Donald Barthelme, William Gass and Robert Coover, to that of Jamaica Kincaid, Raymond Carver and Richard Bausch. This is hardly another case of rounding up the usual suspects; there are many surprises in the lineup--delightful ones. (Oct.)
Date of Birth:
February 16, 1944
Place of Birth:
B.A., Michigan State University, 1966; M.F.A., University of California, Irvine, 1970
Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award for Independence Day, 1996
Richard Ford lived with his parents in Jackson, Mississippi, until he was eight years old, at which time his father suffered a near-fatal heart attack. After that, he shuttled back and forth between his parents' home in Jackson and Little Rock, Arkansas, where his maternal grandparents managed a hotel. Ford describes his childhood as happy and contented -- at least until he was 16, when his father died and the young man began to seriously think about his future.
Although he attended Michigan State University with the vague intention of going into hotel management, Ford soon switched over to literature. After graduation, he married his college sweetheart, Kristina Hensley, but was having trouble settling on a career direction. He applied for several jobs (including the police and the CIA!) and even started law school. It was only after none of these panned out that he begin to consider writing for a living. On the advice of a former teacher, he applied to graduate school and was accepted into the University of California at Irvine, where he came under the happy, unexpected tutelage of Oakley Hall and E. L. Doctorow.
He began work on his first novel, the story of two drifters whose lives intersect on a desolate island in the Mississippi River. An excerpt appeared in The Paris Review, and the book was accepted for publication. In 1976, A Piece of My Heart was released to good reviews, but Ford bristled at being pigeonholed by critics as a regional writer. "I'm a Southerner, God knows," Ford said in an interview with the literary journal Ploughshares, "but I always wanted my books to exist outside the limits of so-called Southern writing."
In the early '80s, Ford's wife (who holds a Ph.D. in urban planning) was teaching at NYU, and the couple was living in Princeton, New Jersey. Disillusioned with novel writing, Ford took a job with the glossy New York magazine Inside Sports, but in 1982 the magazine folded, leaving him unemployed again. Tentatively he returned to fiction with the glimmer of a story idea based loosely on his most recent experiences. Several years in the making, The Sportswriter introduced Frank Bascombe, a middle-aged writer from suburban New Jersey who forsakes his promising literary career to pen articles for a glossy New York magazine. Published in 1986, the novel was named one of Time magazine's five best books of the year and was nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award.
Ford claims that he never intended to write a trilogy around Frank Bascombe. But, in between other literary projects (including an acclaimed 1987 short story collection, Rock Springs), he found himself inexorably drawn back into the life of his melancholic protagonist. In 1995, the superb sequel, Independence Day, won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Then, in 2006, Ford concluded the saga with The Lay of the Land, a bittersweet set piece nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award.
Although Ford modestly maintained that the only reason he won the Pulitzer Prize was that Philip Roth had not written a novel that year, in fact his angst-ridden suburban Everyman Frank Bascombe ranks alongside Roth's Nathan Zuckerman (or, for that matter, John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom) as one of American literature's most unforgettable, richly drawn characters. For a man who stumbled into writing with very little forethought or design, Richard Ford has indeed come far.
|Book:||The Granta Book Of The American Short Story, Vol. 2|
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