Richard Ford’s work has spanned almost four decades, and moving between short stories and novels, he has provided some of the most thoughtful and poetic writing of recent memory. The Sportswriter is a particularly radiant achievement, and introduced the character Frank Bascombe, who would feature in later work such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land. But it is his sense of clarity and purchase on the subtleties that harness everyday living and make lives epic that make him a great writer. It comes as little surprise to hear that he admires John McGahern’s work so much, since their work stems from similar impulses; from their acute connection to particular rhythms of language, to a sense of art being the only redemptive idea left, their characters constantly struggling for that wispy, elusive notion of “self”.
It seems fitting therefore, on the day of the festival programme launch, that this great writer begins our series of Proust Questionnaires.
What is your idea of happiness?
Choosing what I want to do; in particular, doing something with my wife.
Where would you most like to live?
I live there [Maine].
What is your favourite virtue?
Persistence (is that a virtue?).
What is your most marked characteristic?
Who are your favourite writers?
Being a writer, myself, I don’t really have to choose.
Which historical figures do you most dislike?
I don’t have personal feelings about historical figures. I’d need to know them.
What event in history do you most admire?
The American Civil Rights Movement.
What is your present state of mind?
I don’t know.
Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?
I don’t have heroes or heroines.
What is your favourite food and drink?
I don’t have to choose.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in fiction?
This isn’t really a question.