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The Lay of the Land: Frank Bascombe, Book 3 | [Richard Ford]

The Lay of the Land: Frank Bascombe, Book 3

With The Sportswriter, in 1986, Richard Ford commenced a cycle of novels that, 10 years later, after Independence Day won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, was hailed by The Times of London as "an extraordinary epic [that] is nothing less than the story of the 20th century itself." Now, a decade later, Frank Bascombe returns, with a new lease on life (and real estate), and more acutely in thrall to life's endless complexities than ever before.
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Publisher's Summary

With The Sportswriter, in 1986, Richard Ford commenced a cycle of novels that, 10 years later, after Independence Day won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, was hailed by The Times of London as "an extraordinary epic [that] is nothing less than the story of the 20th century itself." Now, a decade later, Frank Bascombe returns, with a new lease on life (and real estate), and more acutely in thrall to life's endless complexities than ever before.

His story resumes in the autumn of 2000, when his trade as a realtor on the Jersey Shore is thriving, permitting him to revel in the acceptance of "that long, stretching-out time when my dreams would have mystery like any ordinary person's; when whatever I do or say, who I marry, how my kids turn out, becomes what the world, if it makes note at all, knows of me, how I'm seen, understood, even how I think of myself before whatever there is that's wild and unassuagable rises and cheerlessly hauls me off to oblivion."

But as a presidential election hangs in the balance, and a postnuclear-family Thanksgiving looms before him, along with crises both marital and medical, Frank discovers that what he terms the Permanent Period is fraught with unforeseen perils: "All the ways that life feels like life at age 55 were strewn around me like poppies."

This is a holiday, and a novel, no reader will ever forget, at once hilarious, harrowing, surprising, and profound. The Lay of the Land is astonishing in its own right and a magnificent expansion of one of the most celebrated chronicles of our time.

©2006 Richard Ford; (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • National Book Critics Circle 2006 Award Finalist, Fiction

"The third and most eventful novel in the Frank Bascombe series." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Ford summons a remarkable voice for his protagonist, ruminant, jaunty, merciless, generous and painfully observant, building a dense narrative from Frank's improvisations, epiphanies and revisions." (Publishers Weekly)
"As ever the drama is rooted in the interior world of its authentically life-sized hero, as he logs long hours on the highways and back roads of New Jersey, taking expansive stock of middle-age defeats and registering the erosions of a brilliantly evoked landscape of suburbs, strip malls and ocean towns." (New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.4 (149 )
5 star
 (45)
4 star
 (38)
3 star
 (23)
2 star
 (23)
1 star
 (20)
Overall
3.6 (37 )
5 star
 (11)
4 star
 (11)
3 star
 (10)
2 star
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1 star
 (4)
Story
3.9 (37 )
5 star
 (17)
4 star
 (7)
3 star
 (8)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
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  •  
    Rae Billings, MT, United States 09-08-07
    Rae Billings, MT, United States 09-08-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
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    18
    10
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    Overall
    "Decent story, great writing"

    Good yarn, but Bascome's tone gets whiny after a while.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 08-12-07
    Richard 08-12-07

    Biomedical entrepreneur. Lifelong Libertarian. Yoga enthusiast.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    85
    ratings
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    268
    49
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    2
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    Overall
    "Boring"

    Boring, boring, boring. Gave up one third into it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Roseville, CA, United States 04-03-07
    Scott Roseville, CA, United States 04-03-07 Member Since 2006

    Don't you just love a great story well told?

    HELPFUL VOTES
    615
    ratings
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    359
    112
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    40
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    Overall
    "good pointless writing"

    I thought I'd get some middle-aged wisdom from this book. One good point was that the author's style was just engrossing enough and the *narrator's voice* sounded close enough (in my mind) to SOUND like the fictional main character. It sounded like an autobiography and not fiction. But unless you have an ex-wife, sell real estate, or have testicular cancer I can't say this book has a lot in the way of entertainment value or offers much wisdom or mid -life insight. For example, he pokes a bit of fun of his real-estates assistant's Eastern (Hindu / Buddhist) religious ideas while I respect Buddhism highly since it is not a "religion" per se rather a mind set - the middle path - nothing to extreme. I respect Eastern philosophy to our Western "Progress First" rat race mentality that puts no emphasis on inner peace (something the main character desperately seeks.) I was surprised to learn that this is also the third of the series. It is hard to imagine what is in the first two other than his divorce and then his diagnosis. It is true literature in a sense. I just didn't get much depth or deeper understanding out of it. It isn't BAD it just isn't REALLY good. When the deepest thing you can relate to is the satisfaction of getting much needed bladder relief you know you're not getting much out of the book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 02-19-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    11
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    7
    Overall
    "Lay of ...."

    This is the first review I have written and I feel compelled to write a warning to those who are not middle aged, diagnosed with cancer and bothered with /by disappointing children. Although it is well written, it wasn't compelling. There are too many other books I wish I would have chosen.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay J Peters 02-14-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    3
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    Overall
    "Disappointing"

    Bloated, full of meandering, rhythmic sentences that fail to coalesce into a whole greater than its parts. There's no suspense about what might happen, who Frank will turn out to be. After Independence Day and the Sportswriter, two of my favorite novels of the past 20 years, a major letdown.
    Narration is generally good -- except when it comes to dialogue by characters who are deemed to need distinctive accents (a southern woman who Frank "sponsors", Londoners, Frank's daughter, ...). These accents are over the top and painful ... sometimes less IS more.

    Jay (Joyce's husband)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald Rochester, NY, United States 12-07-06
    Ronald Rochester, NY, United States 12-07-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    2
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "This Land is Pretty Flat"

    Some books are meant to be heard. This is not one of them. In many scenes, it takes 15 minutes to describe what happened in one or two minutes. It would work better for a speed reader. It would also be worth skipping a couple chapters that contributed nothing to the whole story. As a 54 years old while male, I should be able to identify with the main character, but such was not the case.

    5 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald ROCHESTER, NY, United States 12-07-06
    Ronald ROCHESTER, NY, United States 12-07-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    28
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "This Land is Pretty Flat"

    Some books are meant to be heard. This is not one of them. In many scenes, it takes 15 minutes to describe what happened in one or two minutes. It would work better for a speed reader. It would also be worth skipping a couple chapters that contributed nothing to the whole story. As a 54 years old while male, I should be able to identify with the main character, but such was not the case.

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Billie P. Sessions California 08-28-09
    Billie P. Sessions California 08-28-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
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    14
    5
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    0
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    "On and on and on . . . blah, blah, blah"

    This is the first review I have ever written. I don't have time or take the time for this stuff. However, this book has driven me to it! Yes, Ford writes fabulous sentences, has a fantastic grasp of vocabulary and the "reader" sounds like he should. But OMGosh! What is the point of it all? There is no point! Just one sentence after another, and I have a Ph.D. and should be used to convoluted, pointless drivel -- and this is just too much! It's about a man my age and his daily life. Part I (of 3) covers 1 day in his life and I just can't give up two more days of my life for possibly 2 days of his! This has droned on long enough and has sealed the deal that I don't want a man in my life! So thanks Mr. Ford. I needed that! This is only the second book in my life that I just have to DELETE!

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Charlottesville, VA, USA 05-27-09
    Daniel Charlottesville, VA, USA 05-27-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    135
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    3
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    "I loved it, but realize what your getting."

    If you like Richard Russo style musings of a story that tends to slowly unveil through the eyes of a middle age male (of which I am...) then this is a great book. I loved it and was not happy when, at first, this was the only Audible Richard Ford book.

    My daughter is all about Jodi Picoult and the new Twilight books. Clearly they meet her needs as a teenage reader, although I find them overwritten, melodramatic tripe.

    And this is my point: This book met me where i was at, and is a great read for those looking to see how a big segment of middle age white guy thinks and sees much of the world. I suppose for many, this would seem silly...but I loved the writing and the narration was great.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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