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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.
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Critic Reviews

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)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By D. Vance on 11-04-06

Richard Ford, get out of my mind!

Richard Ford has written one of those books that make you believe he has been reading your mind for years. If you are a middle-aged suburban man, Frank Bascome is as real as the guy you see in the mirror every morning. We have the tendency to think our personal experience is unique, but a good author that so perfectly recreates your experience can let you see how universal life's story's are. I find it liberating and humorous to realize my situation is not as unique as I thought, hearing another man struggle with the same questions puts my fears and doubts in perspective.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jon on 03-24-07

Wisdom from the realtor

Richard Ford has to be one of the best writers working today. Each sentence, wonderfully narrated, is packed with meaning. The strength of this novel is not plot but character. You get to know Frank, and in the process he teaches you a great deal about how to learn to accept life, family, and a variety of other imperfections. There is a great deal of wit here - I agree with the reviewer who found delight in Frank's visit to the Lesbian bar while waiting for his car to be repaired across the street. But I would say that the wisdom in this book is what finally makes it such a good one. Frank learns to accept what his life has given and to accept and even love the people he encounters. I had the feeling several times that Frank is a better person than I am, or at least a much wiser one. Frank a very likeable man - one I would delight in purchasing a house from - but also a very wise man who has embraced all that life offers with a serene intelligence that is at the same time pragmatic and down to earth. The narrator is excellent, with just the right timing for those marvelous sentences. This is one great listen.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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