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Be Mine

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Now in the twilight of life, a man who has occupied many colorful lives--sportswriter, father, husband, ex-husband, friend, real estate agent--Bascombe finds himself in the most sorrowing role of all: caregiver to his son, Paul, diagnosed with ALS. On a shared winter odyssey to Mount Rushmore, Frank, in typical Bascombe fashion, faces down the mortality that is assured each of us, and in doing so confronts what happiness might signify at the end of days. It is perpetually surprising about an impossibly sad subject matter, but it is done with an extraordinary imaginative spirit and a constantly diverting patter that deepens and does not deflect the extremity it explores so masterfully against all odds. Be Mine is a dazzling tragi-comedy about the reality of human torment that is at the same time sane, debunking, fanciful and full of absent-minded lust and daydream while never for a second losing an intrinsic heartbreaking seriousness. I believe I missed out on the nuances that are best known when you have been following a character through their past history.

Richard Ford on his new short-story collection and how Richard Ford on his new short-story collection and how

Richard Ford’s Be Mine is a dazzling tragi-comedy about the reality of human torment. Credit: Leonardo Cendamo This book is set just before Covid appeared. Ford has an interesting way of showcasing his prose as readers follow Frank glimpsing a television screen… Looking away from Paul’s death, Frank looks instead at America – Ford’s other great subject in the Bascombe books, which now essentially constitute a social history of Ford’s own boomer generation from midlife to end times.If you do nothing, you will be auto-enrolled in our premium digital monthly subscription plan and retain complete access for 65 € per month. But,” he continues, “I’m mostly caught up in the dearth of imagination among the Democrats for not having the gumption to quietly escort President Biden off the stage. It’s just horrible. And he’s got them all convinced that he’s the only Democrat who can beat Trump. Biden and I are the same age and he’s too damn old to be president. He’s not too damn old to be writing a novel ... ”

Be Mine by Richard Ford | Waterstones

Frank is different from Harry physically (in high school, Frank was hopeless at basketball), morally (you won’t catch Frank in flagrante with his daughter-in-law), and socially. Until he got rich as a middle-aged Toyota dealer, Harry was unequivocally blue collar. College-educated Frank is white collar all the way: a short-story writer, a sportswriter, a college professor (very briefly), then a real-estate agent. Frank has always had an expansive range of highbrow references. In Be Mine, “the old Nazi Heidegger,” “that scrofulous old faker Faulkner,” and the novels of J. M. Coetzee all pop up—not names Harry would ever drop. For his part, Ford intends to go on writing, but he’s also at peace with the possibility that whatever is in the tank, words-wise, may not “be anything”. How will he celebrate his big birthday next year? He smiles. “I am a man who generally asks my friends to just shut up and let me spend my birthday quietly. I don’t want people insincerely revving up the engines of their delight. But Kristina has asked me about it, so…” A party? Surely he should have a party. For a moment, he looks at me in a way that makes me feel very young. “Sweetheart, the best word I can think of to describe how I feel about my life is: surprised… Whatever we do, it won’t be jubilant.” It’s now a somewhat soiled and tattered abundance, actually, hedged around with dangers. In the Comanche Mall, “as in many public places now – and for perfectly supportable reasons”, Frank feels that “someone from somewhere may be about to shoot me”. The RV rental place Frank visits is called A Fool’s Paradise. This, of course, is what America is. It is also what Frank has always knowingly tried to cultivate. As he says: “The ability to feel good when there’s almost no good to feel is a talent right up there with surviving loss.” The ironies here aren’t cynically deployed. A fool’s paradise may be the only paradise we get. Richard Ford remains my favourite author. He captures the mundane inner life of an ordinary Joe, and in the process the reader gains significant insights into America - the country, people, politics, landscape, society, and memorable incidental characters.The fifth, last, and saddest of the Frank Bascombe books. As always, there is fine writing, smart observations of American life and culture, and sharp humor. But there's less humor than in the past, and most of it is bitter. As well as Frank and his son, Be Mine also features the return of minor characters beloved of Ford’s readers, such as Mike Mahoney, a Tibetan-American who changed his name to “something more Irish”. The main story, set in the present day, concerns a teacher from Illinois named Finn who's come to New York to sit at the bedside of his dying brother. While at the hospice, Finn learns that Lily — his depressed former girlfriend with whom he's still hopelessly in love — has died by suicide. Distraught, he travels to her grave, only to be greeted by Lily herself, in the flesh — albeit, rapidly decaying flesh that causes her to smell "like warm food cooling." Because Lily says she wants her body to be moved to the forensic body farm in Knoxville, Tenn., Finn helps her into his car and off they go. By the time they embark on their road trip—knowing, as they’ve always known, that no miracle cure will present itself—every step Paul takes, every gesture, is a struggle. Even when he sits, his right hand trembles, “clenching and curling”; knees shudder; feet fidget. His life “pares down to arch necessities—ambulation, swallowing, talking, breathing.” Devastating as this is for Paul, it also takes a heavy toll on an already death-haunted Frank, who early in the novel scattered the ashes of his first wife. “If three house moves are the psychic equivalent of a death, a son’s diagnosis of ALS is equal to crashing your car into a wall day after day, with the outcome always the same.”

Be Mine’ Shows the Trump Era Through Frank Bascombe’s Eyes ‘Be Mine’ Shows the Trump Era Through Frank Bascombe’s Eyes

I don't think this is the best book to start reading Richard Ford's novels but this was my first one and was a sort of novice. A trip is planned– rent a dilapidated RV and make the trek up to the glorious Mount Rushmore with the goal of helping the guys bond while shaking off a painfully claustrophobic walk of death. Father and son look to break down some of the walls neglect has fostered over the years. The question looms…why this destination? What huge significance can a commercial tourist trap like Mount Rushmore be in the comprehension of a life?Frank is 76 or 77 (it's a bit confusing at times), semi-retired, and with several health problems. But everything else recedes when Frank learns from his sort-of estranged daughter than his son, Paul, 30 years younger than Frank, is dying of ALS. Frank enlists the help of a woman doctor with whom he once almost had an affair and Paul is admitted to the Mayo Clinic, which can't do anything for him. The four chiseled visages. L to R—Washington (the father), Jefferson (the expansionist), Roosevelt #1 (the ham, snugged in like an imposter) and stone-face Lincoln, the emancipator (though there are fresh questions surrounding that). None of these candidates could get a vote today—slavers, misogynists, homophobes, warmongers, historical slyboots, all playing with house money. If the Bascombe novels endure it will be partly because they serve as such comprehensive documents of the hopes and hypocrisies of the age. But it will also be because of the wonderful voice that Mr. Ford has fashioned for them—jokey, melancholic, dreamy, disagreeable and doggedly hopeful…. They are also works of tremendous craft and arrangement, full of tantalizing patterns and recurrences. In this balance of meaning and meaninglessness there has always been enough mystery to keep Frank occupied for a lifetime.”— Wall Street Journal

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