John Dugdale

Reality and Writing

The Lay of the Land

By

Bloomsbury 496pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

Frank Bascombe was a 38-year-old novelist turned magazine journalist when he first appeared in The Sportswriter (1986), and had lived for the past fourteen years in Haddam, New Jersey. Recently divorced from Ann – their children, Paul and Clarissa, lived with her – he was dating a Texan nurse called Vicki Arcenault.

Set five years later than The Sportswriter, in 1988, the year of the Bush Snr v Dukakis presidential election, Independence Day (1995) found Frank no longer writing at all: he now sold real estate, and part of the plot concerned his efforts to find a property in Haddam for troublesome clients. Also featured were his relationship with his new girlfriend Sally, and a road-trip with his troubled teenage son in the course of which Paul injured an eye.

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