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Richard Ford Biography

(1944– ), A Piece of My Heart, The Sportswriter, Independence Day, Wildlife, Rock Springs

American novelist and short-story writer, born in Jackson, Mississippi. Although Southern in origin he is more obviously associated with a group of writers emerging from the MidWest. His first novel, A Piece of My Heart (1976), concerns the quest of two men, one in search of a woman, the other trying to discover the truth about his own past. The Sportswriter (1986) is an evocative and moving study in the collapse and reconstruction of its central character. Independence Day (1995), its sequel, which finds the protagonist in his mid-forties, his so-called ‘Existence Period’, and now selling real estate, continues Ford's acute portrait of an ordinary man. His other work includes Wildlife (1990), set in Montana during the early 1960s, which deals with the underlying tensions of family life as perceived by 16-year-old Joe, whose parents are on the point of separating after his mother falls in love with another man; and stories, Rock Springs (1988). In Ford's work, dramatic and even violent incidents are conveyed with laconic understatement and a dryly ironic humour. This coolly detached style offsets the sordid or pathetic nature of the subjects described in a manner which recalls Hemingway's short fiction. Ford has been associated with the ‘dirty realist’ group of writers of whom Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff are the best-known exponents. Ford is the editor of The Granta Book of the American Short Story (1992).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Samuel Foote Biography to Furioso