Richard Ford, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Independence Day, explores non-fiction for the first time with a biography of his parents.
Fans of his work featuring Frank Bascombe, and his epic Canada, will realise how parents – or lack of them – play a large part in his work.
But this slim volume isn’t an in-depth look at their personalities. It’s his reflections on what he knew of them. The first section on his father was written more than 30 years ago, after he died, and dominates the book to the point the second half on his mother repeats some of the same ground – their life on the road, the places they lived and how they met.
The style is the same throughout – plainly written and somewhat distant. He doesn’t ascribe feelings or motivation to their lives, but asks questions.
The subtitle – Remembering my parents – sums things up. It’s not about exploring or analysing them, just how children remember them, however imperfectly.
As Ford’s not a parent, it’s like he’s calling out for someone to remember him the same way.
For fans it’s an essential work, giving texture to his fiction. For those new to his work, it could be an infuriating read.