Richard Ford was born on February 16, 1944. Ford is a writer of novels and short stories; his best-known work is his series of books about former sportswriter Frank Bascombe.
Ford entered Michigan State University planning to study hotel management, but developed a passion for literature, and switched his major to English. He has said that he thinks his mild dyslexia may have helped him to become a better reader, as it forces him to read more slowly and carefully. He briefly enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, but was discharged due to illness. He went on to get a Master's degree in creative writing from UC Irvine.
Ford supported himself with occasional university teaching jobs while writing his first two novels, A Piece of My Heart (print) and The Ultimate Good Luck (e-book | print). Both were well received by critics, but neither sold well, and Ford took a job as a writer for Inside Sports magazine. When the magazine folded shortly after Ford began working there, he decided to give fiction another try. The result was his commercial breakthrough, 1982's The Sportswriter (e-book | print | audio). It's the first of his Frank Bascombe books; Frank is a failed novelist facing an emotional crisis after the death of his son. Ford has returned to the character in later novels Independence Day (e-book | e-audio | print | audio), which won the Pulitzer Prize, and The Lay of the Land (e-book | e-audio | print | audio), and in a collection of four novellas, Let Me Be Frank With You (e-book | e-audio | print | audio).
The relatively upscale suburban life of Frank Bascombe is in sharp contrast to the characters in much of Ford's other fiction. The short story collection Rock Springs (e-book | print) is mostly set in Montana, and its characters are working-class men, usually struggling for financial survival. The novel Wildlife (e-book | print | audio) is also set in Montana and tells the story of a teenage boy watching as his parents' marriage collapses.
Struggling families are a common theme in Ford's writing, which is often concerned with men trying to find meaning and connection in a world where basic institutions—family, community, religion—seem to be breaking down, and where society grows ever more obsessed with the present, losing touch with the rituals and history of the past.
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