Notes on Richard Ford’s visit

ford_richard.gif“Writing novels is easy if it’s the only thing you do,” Ford said last night during the Q&A session following his reading from his latest novel “The Lay of the Land.”

He spoke of his influences in creating the first-person present-tense narrative voice of Frank Bascombe as including “The Moviegoer” by Walker Percy; “Something Happened” by Joseph Heller (which Ford said has been unfairly overlooked); and “A Fan’s Notes,” by Frederick Exley — which also happens to be one of my all-time favorite books, and should be on the bookshelves of most New Yorkers, considering the subject matter of a sports fanatics obsession with the New York Giants.

Doing some googling, I discover that Ford has talked about his influences before.

That said, he probably had heard many of the same questions before but, like his writing, he was generous in his speaking, clear in articulating his ideas and patient with his audience.

NYSWI Director Donald Faulkner asked Ford about his decision to use long sentences that convey so much without falling apart, Ford responded at length that it was a conscious decision to create a sense of an overflowing of information and ideas. Then he added, “Or maybe I’m just old” and have lost the ability to edit myself. (It was a funny moment among many last night.)

At one point, he used the term “organic” in explaining the process of having Frank Bascombe cry at one point, and then trying to write a logical reason why — or at least a believable reason why — his character would be crying. Then he stopped himself and said that, of course, nothing in writing is organic, it is all constructed by the author and that he has the power over how you respond to his writing.

The event was a last-minute addition to the NYSWI series, Faulkner said, crediting Susan Novotny at the Book House for putting it together. Maybe that’s why the event was held at the Campus Center, and even then the seats weren’t full. Though the audience was quite appreciative of a very entertaining evening.

A final note, keep an eye on this site that Donald Faulkner aims to use to give patrons of the NYSWI an inside look at what’s going on. It’s interesting stuff.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s