January 22, 2015 / 1:07 PM / 4 years ago

Book Talk: Frank Bascombe bears witness in new Richard Ford novel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It’s been almost 30 years since Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford introduced readers to Frank Bascombe with “The Sportswriter,” the first of four books involving the iconic character.

His latest, “Let Me Be Frank With You,” finds an aging hero drawn into intimate, uncomfortable experiences in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey, where he lives.

Ford, 70, recently spoke with Reuters.

Q: What would you say this book is about?

A: What I’ve come to think in the months since this book was finished is that it’s about bearing witness, and what the constellations and comforts of bearing witness might be.

Q: How much of you is in Frank?

A: As little as I can make. I’m always having Frank express opinions and behave in ways that have nothing to do with me.

Q: How did you feel writing about Frank’s adjusting to aging while you’re presumably dealing with some of the same issues?

A: I guess the way I tried to make Frank adjust to these issues is by trying to make him as hilarious as possible. The vicissitudes of age, you have a choice about your attitudes. How long it sometimes takes old men to urinate standing in a public restroom while young men are pissing like racehorses is something you have control over as regards your attitude about it, and I think it’s hilarious.

Or you could think it was tragic, or grim or pathetic ... You have to exercise dominion over as much as you can exercise dominion over, particularly regarding your attitudes.

Q: Will there be more Bascombe books?

A: In my brain, no. But I was in the car the other day with a guy who just read “Let Me Be Frank With You.” This guy was a lobbyist, and he said, “You know, Ford, you’re going to have to make Frank die one day. Why don’t you write one of these books and set it on Valentine’s Day?” and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea.’ It’s rare that somebody says to me what you need to do and for that idea to be of any interest at all. But what this chap told me sparked a real curiosity in me. I don’t want to write a Bascombe book just because I maybe could. I want to write another Bascombe book because I must. Deciding between those things is difficult.

Editing by Patricia Reaney and Gunna Dickson

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