#44 – Wildlife, by Richard Ford

This is my first Richard Ford novel. I had wanted to start with The Sportswriter, but it has two sequels, and I don’t like to start a series, even one as loose as the Frank Bascombe novels, unless I intend to finish it. Not knowing much about Ford beyond his reputation, I thought it would be better to start with something that stood on its own. Besides, I could only afford to buy one book. I’m not so sure anymore just how Ford earned his reputation. Wildlife isn’t a bad book by any means (I keep wanting to call it Wildfire, partly because of the forest fire that rages through the whole of the book—and it’s the only thing that rages, really—and partly because of the excellent abstract oil painting used on the cover of my edition, a picture of which I could not find anywhere online), but neither is it a particularly good book. The narrator is Joe, an appropriately neutral name for a neutral narrator. He is so detached from the events that are essentially causing his world to crumble, so unable to understand even the most obvious hint that there may be things going on beyond or beneath the most superficial level that I honestly believed he was twelve years old, until near the end of the novel when he was revealed to be sixteen. Ford’s prose is serviceable but not remarkable, and the same can be said for the plot and the characters. I may read another Ford novel, I may not. A lukewarm reaction for a lukewarm book.

Next: A Week of This, by Nathan Whitlock.


Writer. Editor. Critic.

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