Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ford's Wildfire is anything but

35. Wildlife, Richard Ford. Fiction, 4-10, pp. 177

Richard Ford gained well-deserved prominence with his novel The Sportswriter and its sequel Independence Days.

Novels like Wildfire explain why he’s drifted from the literary radar.

Wildfire is an inconsequential novel set in Great Falls, Montana. Its passive teenage narrator doesn’t demonstrate any emotional response as his father is fired from his job as a golf pro only to leave home to fight a forest fire, while his mother takes up with a local businessman. Dad returns, learns of Mom’s indiscretion and almost sets himself and the businessman’s house afire. The novel is as flat as the narrator.

It’s hard to understand exactly what Ford wanted to accomplish in Wildfire. There are a few preachy moments passed on as folk wisdom (mom and dad are both given to pontificating before junior) and one can only assume Ford’s point is to be found in these rather vapid pronouncements


I read this book in a day and still had time to dip into 20-30 pages of the non-fiction work I’m reading. Ford is an accomplished writer and this is a breezy 177 pages.

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