Rediscover: Independence Day

Richard Ford's Independence Day (1995) is the second of four novels featuring Frank Bascombe. The first, The Sportswriter (1986), introduces Bascombe as a failed novelist turned sportswriter struggling with the death of his son. Independence Day finds Bascombe working as a real estate agent in New Jersey. Over the course of the titular holiday weekend, he encounters problematic clients, several of his tenants, his lover, his ex-wife and his troubled son, whom he takes on a road trip to the basketball and baseball halls of fame. In The Lay of the Land (2006), Bascombe owns his own real estate company and is expecting his extended family for a Thanksgiving visit. Over the course of three days, he has negative experiences with his son, his ex-wife, an acquaintance he assaults and teenagers who shoot him in the chest. The final Bascombe book, Let Me Be Frank with You (2014), weaves together four narratives about Frank's life in post-Hurricane Sandy New Jersey. In 1996, Independence Day became the first novel to win the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in the same year. (It also enjoyed a spike in sales from the release of the unrelated Roland Emmerich action movie.) Independence Day is available from Vintage ($16.95, 9780679735182). --Tobias Mutter

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