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The Sportswriter (1986)

por Richard Ford

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

Séries: Frank Bascombe (1)

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2,648564,022 (3.66)169
At the beginning of his career, a young man gives up his chance to become a successful novelist in order to work as a sportswriter.
Adicionado recentemente porMAR67, smm_1964, mauromdc, DingusTX, PaulLinsay, markdkat, MASP, GillKHart
Bibliotecas LegadasWalker Percy
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Mostrando 1-5 de 56 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Boy, I had to really slog through this. The main character is incredibly self absorbed and uses a "whatever happens, happens" attitude as a way to protect himself from involvement with other people. In one way, this can be seen as an interesting study in how people deal with events in their lives and how that affects the people around them. It might have been successful at that if the book were half its length. ( )
  grandpahobo | May 9, 2020 |
"The only truth that can never be a lie, let me tell you, is life itself—the thing that happens."
  AAAO | Jan 6, 2020 |
The Sportswriter takes place over a pivotal weekend in sportswriter Frank Bascombe's life. Opening with Frank commemorating the anniversary of his son's death with his ex-wife, Ford wants us to see how this filial death has messed up Frank's relationships and life choices, and how he moves through the adversity that this weekend brings and out the other side to greener grass.

Those who love this book possibly laud it for Frank's pervading optimism in the midst of life's tough times, but I found it an exercise in dull introspective tediousness.

As a character I couldn't warm to Frank. He moved his attention between women so fast it made my head spin, and although I'm sure Ford wanted the reader to feel 'poor Frank - he's lost and without purpose and looking for happiness wherever he can find it', instead I just thought 'Frank - you're a shallow, womanising, self-serving dick'. And this from the girl who loves Updike's writing... Updike's Harry Angstrom in the Rabbit series was written in such a heartwarming way that you couldn't help but love him despite his constant screwing up, whereas Frank Bascombe just felt like a cold fish who was happiest with relationships that don't require too much effort or involvement. Whilst Ford might have told us that this was really because he was grieving, it didn't feel as if it rang true with his character; I doubted Frank had depths enough to feel anything.

Ford's writing in this book felt very old school male, which is something I don't usually give to much thought to when I'm reading. There was a 'what they won't know won't hurt 'em' boys' club undercurrent to his narrative more in keeping with writing a few decades earlier than this was written. If there's heart to the characters like in Richard Yates' books or Updike's it amuses me and I take it with a pinch of salt as a snapshot of that time and generation, but Ford somehow rubbed me up the wrong way with Frank. He felt cocky and insincere.

In Ford's world in The Sportswriter everyone was divorced and miserable. I'm quite sure there are many places in the States where happy marriages and happy people abound, but not in Ford's America - everyone's marriages and relationships were shitty and broken, and everyone was damaged and trying to find their little moment of happiness. The characters on their own were bleak central, but one hoped for at least some redemption in the form of an interesting plot around them. Instead, time was centrally devoted to Frank's self-analysis and inner journey, and at the end we were supposed to feel elated by what a great guy Frank was to come out the other side. I was just elated to reach the end.

I will cut Richard Ford some slack and say that you can tell he's a talented writer, but this novel mostly left me cold. There were some interesting interludes, but he dived far too much into dull musings that went on for far too long. If you've ever tried to read Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot, it had that similar annoyingness of a writer who gets carried away with how important he thinks his own ramblings are.

3 stars - hints of brilliance, yet too caught up in its own importance. ( )
1 vote AlisonY | Sep 19, 2019 |
A Book by an Author You've Never Read Before

I found this book on Time's 100 Best Novels list and have had it on my back burner for years. I would amend the category with (And Are Unlikely To Ever Read Again) For a book that provided a wealth of philosophical outlooks any man can identify with (e.g. "Explaining is where we all get in trouble." and "A good sense of decorum can make life bearable when otherwise you might blow your brains out."), The Sportswriter meanders for nearly 400 pages through two days of eventful episodes Frank seems to sleepwalk through. Ford left me with no sense of the purpose of his book, any more than it's protagonist Frank Bascombe seems to carry a sense of purpose for his - or any - life. Frank's many trips that move the story forward end up somewhere other than where he intends them to, and for all his planning he ends up carried downstream by random events and encounters without much of a resolution at the end of his story. That sums up how I feel after finishing the book, too. You want to like Frank, but he keeps calling old girlfriends, detouring to his psychic, and generally displaying that, despite his claims otherwise, he still hasn't awoken from his "dreaminess". Which I'm unconvinced was confined to the time in which his son died and his wife divorced him . ( )
  skavlanj | Sep 15, 2019 |
Early in this novel, the narrator, Frank Bascombe, muses on the short stories he wrote that were published as a book , and it feels as if the author of this novel, Richard Ford, foreshadows the ending and warns the reader what to expect from the writing. Here's a long quote from page 46 of my 1995 "Second Vintage Edition":

"[The short stories] seemed to have a feeling for the human dilemma and they did seem hard-nosed and odd-eyed about things...there were a good many descriptions of the weather and the moon, and ... most of [the stories] were set in places like remote hunting camps on Canadian Lakes, or in the suburbs, or Arizona or Vermont, places I had never been, and many of [the short stories] ended with men staring out snowy windows in New England boarding schools or with somebody driving fast down a dark dirt road, or banging his hand into a wall or telling someone else he could never really love his wife, and bringing on hard emptinesses. They also seemed to depend on silence a lot. I seemed, I felt later, to have been stuck in bad stereotypes. All my men were too serious, too brooding and humorless, characters at loggerheads with imponderable dilemmas, much less interesting than my female characters, who were always of secondary importance but free-spirited and sharp-witted."

The Sportswriter does indeed have a lot of descriptions of the weather and the moon. Settings include New Jersey suburbs, Detroit, New York City, Florida, and a small New England college. The narrator, by turns, deals with snowy weather, drives down dark roads, gets banged by a metal grocery store cart that cuts his knee open, and realizes that his infatuation for his girlfriend is not enough to be a foundation for a lasting marriage with her. The dialogue depends on silence a lot. The narrator constantly categorizes people according to bad stereotypes (e.g. on page 343 when the narrator sees two businessmen get off a train late at night on Easter Sunday; he says "both are Jews," with no apparent reason for making that statement). The female characters are always of secondary importance, while some are free-spirited and sharp-witted.

Yes, Ford delivers what his foreshadowing promises, but it's also misleading in some ways. He pulls the rug out from under the reader every time the novel deviates from his predictions, and I think he does that deliberately. I think Ford is trying throughout the book to develop "hard emptinesses" and to make us expect the novel to end on that note but then delivers something else, something surprising that will make the reader sit up and take note. Unfortunately, after so much development, the surprise ending is too disjointed and doesn't feel at all like an organic conclusion to the story. Not only that, but some plot points, devices, and characters seem thrown into the story just to fulfill the promise in his foreshadowing (most notably, the incident with the grocery cart), so they feel stilted, unorganic, and completely unnecessary.

Some reviewers have noted that the dialogue is awkward and/or too drawn out; I believe that is also a deliberate choice on the author's part. The dialogue is awkward at times when the whole exchange is fundamentally awkward, like when an acquaintance divulges too much information, or when the narrator meets someone who turns out to be dark, violent and volatile -- perfectly reasonable to make these awkward dialogues.

Many of the narrator's descriptions/observations/musings use language that was offensive even in the 70s (which is the setting for the novel, though the copyright is dated 1986) like the habit of using ethnic slurs to describe people. I think Ford's language choices are very deliberate, and I suspect he was trying to keep us from liking Frank Bascombe too much and from thinking of Bascombe as a sympathetic character. Likewise, Bascombe is often misogynistic, though that attitude softens somewhat by the end of the novel -- somewhat.

In short, I believe that the aspects of this book which others have identified as faults are deliberate choices on the author's part. That doesn't mean they work well or are forgivable as devices. And despite its faults and the dated writing style, I still enjoyed the book!

~bint ( )
  bintarab | Aug 6, 2019 |
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Wiel, Frans van derTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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My name is Frank Bascombe. I am a sportswriter.
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What’s friendship’s realest measure? I’ll tell you. The amount of precious time you’ll squander on someone else’s calamities and fuck-ups.
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At the beginning of his career, a young man gives up his chance to become a successful novelist in order to work as a sportswriter.

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