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The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
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*Starred Review* Ford's third novel featuring realtor Frank Bascombe, previously seen in he Sportswriter (1986)and the Pulitzer-winning ndependence Day (1995), finds the beleaguered everyman in the "Permanent Period" of his life, where he's trying mightily to deal with present circumstances while dodging past regrets. But it's Thanksgiving week, "the time of year when things go wrong if they're going to." Frank has recently been diagnosed and is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer; his second wife has left him for her first husband (presumed dead but recently resurrected); his long-divorced first wife has suddenly (and disturbingly) expressed an interest in getting back together; and his fractious relationship with his son is soon to be tested anew as the family gathers for an organic-turkey dinner. As Frank struggles to hold onto his peace of mind, events both large and small conspire to give him an "acute case of the heebie-jeebies." A barroom brawl with a drunken florist, a real-estate deal gone sour, and an unexpected, intense bout of grieving for his first child, who died at age nine--Frank suddenly finds himself just where he doesn't want to be, mired "in the meaning of every goddamn thing." Through Frank's acerbic opinions on a host of issues, from the presidential election of 2000 to the real-estate business, friendship, and the "treacherous" nature of holidays, Ford crafts a mesmerizing narrative voice--one that gives us, with offhanded eloquence and a kind of grim mirth, "the lay of the land." Joanne Wilkinson
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  The Lay of the Land (Vintage Contemporaries)
Knopf 1st Hardcover edition, Date published 2006, ISBN 0-679-45468-3, 485 pages

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