Let Me Be Frank with You by Richard Ford - review by Tancred Newbury

Tancred Newbury

The Gramps Shuffle

Let Me Be Frank with You


Bloomsbury 238pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Richard Ford once confessed to John Updike that had Updike not shown that a multi-volume, decades-spanning suburban saga centred on an American everyman could be written, Ford’s own, hugely feted Bascombe series – of which Let Me Be Frank with You is the fourth and arguably best instalment – would never have materialised. Like the Rabbit books to which Ford was referring, the Bascombe series has been updated every ten years or so, ever since The Sportswriter (1986) first introduced us to distracted divorcé and novelist-turned-sportswriter Frank Bascombe, struggling over the Easter weekend of 1983 to rouse himself from the disconnected state of ‘dreaminess’ he had fallen into following the loss of his nine-year-old son to Reye syndrome. 

Next came Independence Day (1995), set in the lead-up to the Fourth of July 1988, in which Frank had become an estate agent and his dreaminess had given way to a content but disengaged ‘Existence Period’. By The Lay of the Land (2006), set around Thanksgiving in 2000, Frank had

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