Acclaimed American author Richard Ford, the man behind such classic novels as The Sportswriter and Independence Day, gives an interview to the U.K.’s Guardian about his new novel, Canada, and he has some fascinating things to say about the country that has showered him with fame, riches and literary accolades (hint — it’s not Canada):
America beats on you so hard the whole time. You are constantly being pummelled by other people’s rights and their sense of patriotism. So the American’s experience of going to Canada, or at least my experience, is that you throw all that clamour off. Which is a relief sometimes. … There is this very strong “If you are not for us, you are against us” feeling in America just now. Perhaps there always has been. You are not allowed to complain. Or even have a dialogue. But if a novel is there for anything I believe that is what it has to induce.
To which commenter Bix2bop responded:
Yeah, it’s a real drag to live in an multiracial democracy when you’re a Mississippian born in 1944 and your books are reviewed in the NY Times by fellow writers who happen to be female or African American.
When Alice Hoffman gave The Sportswriter a bad review in the Times, he took one of her books out in the yard and shot it with his gun.
After Colson Whitehead gave A Multitude of Sins a negative review in the New York Times, Ford spat on him at a Poets & Writers party.(read about both altercations here — ed.)
I have read Ford’s Wildlife and I’ve been meaning to read his Frank Bascombe novels, but the idea that Richard Ford, of all people, has been “pummelled” by the American experience … (the rest of Bix2bop’s comment calling Ford out for his hypocrisy is not to be missed — ed.)
And some people say anonymous commenters don’t bring anything of value to the online conversation.
The thing no one mentions about the Ford-Whitehead incident is that Whitehead’s review was a snide, sarcastic, dismissive piece of hackwork unworthy of its subject. I have enjoyed some Ford books and not others, but his work deserves respectful consideration, not condescension from an unquestionably inferior writer.