When you think of Richard Ford and sense of place you might summon up New Jersey, the location for his most noted work, the trilogy of Frank Bascombe novels that include “The Sportswriter,” “Independence Day” and “The Lay of the Land.” But Ford is also invested in the West, including Montana and Wyoming, where his books “Rock Springs” and “Wildlife” take place, and now he returns to that region in his latest novel, “Canada.” In this novel, Ford tells the story of 15-year-old Dale Parsons, who has to take care of himself after his parents are arrested for bank robbery. Our book critic, David L. Ulin, talked to Ford about his new work in the lead piece of our Sunday Arts & Books pages and focuses on the author’s sense of place. (By the way, Ford will be in town Thursday for a conversation with Michael Silverblatt as part of the ALOUD series at the Los Angeles Public Library.)
Also Sunday, writer Scott Martelle, whose latest book “Detroit” focuses on the decline of the once-great American city, reflects on Michael Harrington’s “The Other America: Poverty in the United States,” which is marking its 50th anniversary this year with a new edition from Scribner. Martelle writes that Harrington’s book was quite influential in his life and reflects on the fact that it helped fuel John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to eradicate poverty in the 1960s. Sadly, Martelle notes, that war “has gone about as well as the ones we’ve conducted against drugs and in Iraq and Afghanistan,” which is to say not very well.
One of the great joys of book review coverage is the opportunity to introduce a writer to a new audience of readers. Carolyn Kellogg does that quite well in her review of four books by the great, but little known in North America, Brazilian-bred writer Clarice Lispector. Kellogg notes that Lispector literally “revolutionized Brazilian letters.” “These four books,” Kellogg writes, “showcase her intellectual heft, restless creative spirit, contradiction, humor and darkness…”
More after the jump