Richard Ford, 1944–, American novelist, b. Jackson, Miss.; grad. Michigan State Univ. (B.A., 1966), Univ. of California, Irvine (M.F.A., 1970). Ford's concerns are those of a moralist who displays a deeply felt sympathy toward his often struggling, sometimes down-at-the-heels characters; his prose style is straightforward, even spare. His literary reputation was established with The Sportswriter (1986), a widely acclaimed novel that is still his best known. It is a first-person account of a weekend in the life of novelist-turned-sportswriter Frank Bascombe, a tough-minded yet thoughtful, alienated yet acutely observant character whose reflections on his own life reveal much about contemporary America. Bascombe, as successful real estate agent and then a retiree, reappears in three sequels, Independence Day (1995, Pulitzer Prize), The Lay of the Land (2006), and Let Me Be Frank with You (2014). In the course of these works he becomes Ford's middle-class Everyman. The author's other novels include A Piece of My Heart (1976), The Ultimate Good Luck (1981), Wildlife (1990), and Canada (2012). He has also written the three novellas of Women with Men (1997) and numerous short stories. Stories dealing with life in the rural West are collected in Rock Springs (1987) and with marital infidelity in A Multitude of Sins (2002). Other works include essays, a play (1983), and a screenplay (1991).
See studies by H. Guagliardo, ed. (2000) and E. A. Walker (2000).