Follow my blog on Bloglovin

Friday, December 26, 2014

Holiday Thoughts

Reading a book on the Kindle is a strange experience. Strange in several ways actually… but one of the most disconcerting things is that you can't see how far you have left to go in the book by the way it looks in your hands. Instead, you have to go to the bottom of the "page" and see the percentage you have read. 

I was just reading Richard Ford's latest book, Let Me Be Frank With You, and I looked down to see that I was 85 percent complete. I told my husband, "I can't believe I'm almost finished with this book and nothing has really happened." Then I read the part near the end of the novel where Frank Bascombe encounters the local minister when visiting a sick friend. Fike, the priest, comments that he is enjoying listening to Frank read a V.S. Naipul book on the local Reading Radio for the Blind program and he says, "Not much happens there, wouldn't you say?" To which Frank replies, "That's the point, Fike. You have to be available to what's not evident." 

That's true of this novel, as well. The book of four linked short narratives ends on Christmas Eve with Frank's encounter with an old friend.  Frank, my old fictional friend through three previous Ford novels - TheSportswriter, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land - has grown older and is contemplating life in this funny, but quiet, book.  I first met Frank, now 68, almost 30 years ago (hard to believe!) in The Sportswriter and we have grown old together (even though he’s 12 years old than I).  One cannot help compare Frank Bascombe to Harry Angstrom in John Updike’s four Rabbit books. Both are middle class modern mystics.  And you definitely have to appreciate the underlying story in both books.

Richard Ford, born in my home state of Mississippi, sums of his linked quartet of novels with this quote,  “In my view,” Frank says, “we have only what we did yesterday, what we do today and what we might still do. Plus, whatever we think about all of that.”  And "what we think about all that" is what Ford is richly gives us in this book through Bascombe, in his quiet, contemplative way. It was especially nice just before my own Christmas Eve.

And don't worry, I really don't read on the Kindle too often. The device is perfect when I'm traveling because I can always have new books at my disposal. With just the stroke of a key, I can have a fresh novel to read. I love that when I'm on the road, but for the rest of the time, nothing beats holding a book in my hands.  I can't wait to dig into my new Christmas books - Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins, Small Victories by Anne Lamott, All the Light We Cannot See by Antony Doerr and Family Furnishings by Alice Munro. Poetry, essays, literary fiction and short stories. My cup runneth over!