Between Them
From American master Richard Ford, a memoir: his first work of nonfiction, a stirring narrative of memory and parental love.How is it that we come to consider our parents as people with rich and intense lives that include but also exclude us? Richard Ford’s parents—Edna, a feisty, pretty Catholic-school girl with a difficult past; and Parker, a sweet-natured, soft-spoken traveling salesman—were rural Arkansans born at the turn of the twentieth century. Married in 1928, they lived “alone together” on the road, traveling throughout the South. Eventually they had one child, born late, in 1944.For Ford, the questions of what his parents dreamed of, how they loved each other and loved him become a striking portrait of American life in the mid-century. Between Them is his vivid image of where his life began and where his parents’ lives found their greatest satisfaction.Bringing his celebrated candor, wit, and intelligence to this most intimate and mysterious of landscapes—our parents’ lives—the award-winning storyteller and creator of the iconic Frank Bascombe delivers an unforgettable exploration of memory, intimacy, and love.

Between Them Details

TitleBetween Them
Author
Formatebook
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 2nd, 2017
PublisherEcco
ISBN0062661906
ISBN-139780062661906
Number of pages192 pages
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, Biography Memoir

Between Them Review

  • Rebecca Foster
    February 27, 2017
    (2.5) This short family memoir reminds me most of Elsewhere, Richard Russo’s memoir of his mother. Richard was the only child born to Parker and Edna Ford, 15 years after their wedding and once they were both well into their thirties – no common occurrence in the 1940s. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, but his father’s work as a traveling salesman took him all over the South and kept him on the road Monday through Friday. That pattern of weekday absenteeism, plus the fact that Parker died of (2.5) This short family memoir reminds me most of Elsewhere, Richard Russo’s memoir of his mother. Richard was the only child born to Parker and Edna Ford, 15 years after their wedding and once they were both well into their thirties – no common occurrence in the 1940s. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, but his father’s work as a traveling salesman took him all over the South and kept him on the road Monday through Friday. That pattern of weekday absenteeism, plus the fact that Parker died of a heart attack when Ford was 16, accounts for him being like a shadow here; his mother’s was the true and enduring presence in his life. His memories of his father are thus understandably sketchy, yet I’m not sure I agree with this self-exoneration, citing the difficulty of reconstructing his father’s life:And it was all much more than I’m saying. You can be sure. What I don’t know can’t rightly be called a feature of who he was. My father. Incomplete understanding of our parents’ lives is not a condition of their lives. Only ours. If anything, to realize you know less than all is respectful, since children narrow the frame of everything they’re a part of. Whereas being ignorant or only able to speculate about another’s life frees that life to be more what it truly was.Even after he went to college in Michigan, married Kristina, and moved around for teaching gigs while writing his novels, Ford remained reasonably close with Edna, particularly when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1973. He wrote Part 2 of the book shortly after her death in 1981; Part 1, about his father, was written 30 years later. This means that some details of the book – how his parents first met, their early marriage and parenthood – are repetitive. However, the tone is cohesive; if it weren’t for the Author’s Note, you wouldn’t suspect that this was written across such a span of time.Although I admire Ford’s intention to bring his personal pair of ‘Greatest Generations’ characters back to life, I didn’t feel this book gave me any particular insight into the time period or the background of a writer whose fiction (Canada) I’ve enjoyed. I’d say this is for diehard Ford fans, or those of his generation who might recognize their own parents in his. My favorite anecdote was about his mother pointing out Eudora Welty to him in the grocery store. Out May 2nd.
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  • Laura
    May 8, 2017
    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the week:Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford tells us the stories of his parents, taken from a newly published memoir.After his parents married they took to the road. Father worked at the Faultless Company, which took them to "Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and a small part of Tennessee, a slice of Florida, a corner of Texas, all of Mississippi." On the road they stayed at motels and ate in diners. They had fun. They 'roistered'.Abridged by Katrin WilliamsProduce From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the week:Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford tells us the stories of his parents, taken from a newly published memoir.After his parents married they took to the road. Father worked at the Faultless Company, which took them to "Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and a small part of Tennessee, a slice of Florida, a corner of Texas, all of Mississippi." On the road they stayed at motels and ate in diners. They had fun. They 'roistered'.Abridged by Katrin WilliamsProducer Duncan Minshull.http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08pdxkz
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  • Krista
    May 27, 2017
    Between Them, this book's title, is meant, in part, to suggest that by being born I literally came between my parents, a virtual place where I was sheltered and adored as long as they were alive. But it is also meant, in part, to portray their ineradicable singleness – both in marriage, and in their lives as my parents.Between Them is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford's biography of his parents, presented in two parts: A section focusing on his mother, written thirty years ago when she Between Them, this book's title, is meant, in part, to suggest that by being born I literally came between my parents, a virtual place where I was sheltered and adored as long as they were alive. But it is also meant, in part, to portray their ineradicable singleness – both in marriage, and in their lives as my parents.Between Them is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford's biography of his parents, presented in two parts: A section focusing on his mother, written thirty years ago when she passed away; and a second section (which comes first in the book) about his father, written recently. Ford allows that there are likely to be inconsistencies between the two accounts – because the point was to rely solely on memory – and he permits himself to repeat certain events. And always and everywhere he stresses that, as is true for all of us, it is impossible for a child to ever truly know his parents; to know what is in their minds, to understand their relationship, or to see them as outsiders do. Certainly well-written and basically interesting, the fact that Ford knows so few details about his parents' lives, and refuses to speculate or extrapolate to fill them in, actually makes for thin gruel – I liked what is here but don't know that I see the point.That which was most intimate, most important, most satisfying and necessary to each of my parents transpired almost exclusively between them. This is not an unhappy fact for a son to face. In most ways it's heartening, since knowing that this is so preserves for me a hopeful mystery about life – the mystery which promises that even with careful notice, much happens that we do not understand.Like I said, the base details are interesting: Parker Ford was born in rural Arkansas; the youngest child and only son of a dour single mother (his father committed suicide), Parker had little education and modest ambition – landing a job as a travelling salesman (selling starch) for the Faultless Company suited him fine. Edna Akin, also from the Arkansas sticks, was only fourteen years younger than her mother and seven years younger than her step-father – and as she got in the way of their fun, Edna was sent away to boarding school, and when she was old enough, brought back home and set to work. Edna met Parker when she was seventeen and he was twenty-four, they soon married, and went on the road together: enjoying hotels and restaurants, and presumably, each other's company for fifteen years. Richard Ford came along relatively late in life for his parents, but if they resented him as a drag on their good times, they never let on: he felt loved and wanted and every move the family made – from apartment to duplex to the suburbs – seemed for his benefit. The need to lay down roots meant that Parker continued his sales route, alone, from Monday to Friday while his family stayed at home, and although that meant that Richard lived an atypical bifurcated life – loose and carefree on weekdays, more quiet and scheduled when his father was home – he regarded this as his normal; didn't think he could have been closer to either of his parents. Parker died suddenly, at home, when Richard was sixteen, and while that was, of course, devastating, Richard was soon gone away to college and family life became something for phone calls and visits. In the second half of the book, Ford describes his mother's eventual death as well. The more we see our parents fully, after all, see them as the world does, the better our chances to see the world as it is.I did find this book interesting for two reasons: 1) My mother-in-law, who is just barely older than Richard Ford, had a father who was a travelling salesman; someone who was away from Monday to Friday; a father who died of a heart attack in a hotel room when she was just twenty – I enjoyed imagining that this is what her childhood had been like, too. And 2) I clearly remember trying to psychoanalyse my own parents when I was a kid – my dad was probably ill-tempered because his father had been abusive; my mum was probably an indifferent mother because she had married too young and felt short-changed by life – and it wasn't until I was grown up (and no longer needed to protect myself by making excuses for them) that I realised it wasn't my job to parse motives: all I know for sure is the way that they acted; I have zero information about their interior lives. Because of this, I appreciate that Ford didn't try to invent interior lives for his parents (even if it feels a bit maddening that he wrote a biography of people who had always been reluctant to talk about themselves), but perhaps this book would have felt weightier if he had added more of himself into it. As an only child who has lived to a greater age than either of his parents did, I understand Ford's desire to write this book and preserve what was known of Parker and Edna, I just don't know who the ideal reader would be.
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  • Patty Shlonsky
    April 24, 2017
    Richard Ford is one of America's great writers. He has a way of answering the question "what is the meaning of life?" in the most direct way possible--by writing about living. "Between Them" is two separate memoirs, one of his mother and one of his father, written 30 years apart. In the memoirs, Ford describes the seeming unextraordinary lives of his parents, which at first blush seems to be a self indulgent exercise but upon further reflection depicts the fairly extraordinary routine of living. Richard Ford is one of America's great writers. He has a way of answering the question "what is the meaning of life?" in the most direct way possible--by writing about living. "Between Them" is two separate memoirs, one of his mother and one of his father, written 30 years apart. In the memoirs, Ford describes the seeming unextraordinary lives of his parents, which at first blush seems to be a self indulgent exercise but upon further reflection depicts the fairly extraordinary routine of living.Both of Ford's parents were born in Arkansas to fairly humble beginnings. His father, Parker Ford, was working in a grocery when he met his soon to be wife, Ford's mother, Edna. In 1938, Parker became a salesman for the Faultless Company out of Kansa City, selling laundry starch. The job kept him on the road during the week and home only on the week-ends. Parker held the job until his death.Most of Ford's commentary about his father is conjecture and supposition. The memoir was written almost 50 years after Parker's death and it is clear by Ford's descriptions of his father that a great deal of time had gone by and that Parker was not well known to his son. However, that seems to be part of the point. Ford surmises that his relationship with his father was likely different from other children's relationships to their fathers and observes that "I grew up understanding that the view from outside any family, mine included, and the experience of being inside would always be different." Parker Ford had his first heart attack at the age of 43. He lived 12 more years, dying at the age of 55. "I can recognize now that life is short and has inadequacies, that once again it requires crucial avoidances as well as fillings in to be acceptable. Most everything but love goes away." Ford’s mother, Edna, was born to a 14 year old who left Edna's father and ultimately married a significantly younger man (who might have been close in age to Edna). Edna's mother sent her to a Caholic boarding school (Edna and her family were not Catholic) out of concern for her being too proximate to the younger husband. For inexplicable reasons, Edna's mother later took her out of school and advised her to tell people they were sisters. Needless to say, Edna did not have the most conventional upbringing and Parker's mother was never exactly accepting of her. Edna ultimely died of cancer while in her 70s. The best part of the book is the Afterword, where Ford explains his view of life, his parents and why he wrote the memoirs. "I have always admired Auden's poem 'La Musee des Beaux Arts' for its acute wisdom that life's most important moments are often barely noticed by others, if noticed at all...This understanding has been a crucial urge for most of what I've written in fifty years...The fact that lives and deaths go unnoticed has specifically inspired this small book about my parents and set its task. Our parents' lives, even those enfolded in obscurity, offer us our first, strong assurance that human events have consequences."The book is very short and a quick read, with pictures of his parents and his younger self interspersed throughout. The memoirs are consistent with Ford’s uncanny ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary and expose the richness of everyday life. If you enjoy Richard Ford and are curious about where his amazing perspective originated, you should read this book. Between Them will be released in May of this year. if you like this review, subscribe to www.frombriefstobooks.com for more
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  • Dorothy
    May 18, 2017
    I don't usually read memoirs. Perhaps I have an unreasoning prejudice against them born of some reading experience in my distant past, but, generally, I just don't enjoy them. But I will always make an exception for Richard Ford.Ford has written this short (less than 200 pages) memoir of his parents and of his experience growing up with them. It essentially consists of two long essays written some thirty years apart in time. Both were written after his parents' deaths. The one about his mother w I don't usually read memoirs. Perhaps I have an unreasoning prejudice against them born of some reading experience in my distant past, but, generally, I just don't enjoy them. But I will always make an exception for Richard Ford.Ford has written this short (less than 200 pages) memoir of his parents and of his experience growing up with them. It essentially consists of two long essays written some thirty years apart in time. Both were written after his parents' deaths. The one about his mother was written first, although she was the second one to die. The second one about his father was written many years after his father died in 1960. Ford was only sixteen years old at the time.In the book itself, the essays appear in the order of the deaths, so the one about the father is first, followed by the one about the mother.We learn that Richard was an only child and his arrival was a bit of a surprise for his parents. They had been married for fifteen years when he was born. Apparently, those fifteen years had been happy ones that his parents spent mostly on the road. His father was a traveling salesman for the Faultless Starch Company and his mother went with him as he made his rounds to a number of southern states in his territory.Both his parents were from Arkansas and that remained their home base in their years of travel, but with the expectation of a baby arriving on the scene, they decided to make a move. His father's employer encouraged him to move to a more central location within his territory so that he would be able to spend more time at home. Thus it was that they decided to move to Jackson, Mississippi, a town where they knew virtually no one. It was there that their son was born and where he spent the formative years of his life.I've always felt a connection with Ford because of where he was born and grew up, for I was growing up in that area during much the same period, the '50s and '60s. Our family situations were quite different. My family were farmers and factory workers. His father was the aforementioned traveling salesman and his mother, after Richard's birth, was a stay-at-home mom. But we were both only children and we both grew up as observers, witnessing first our own families and then the larger society. And we both got out when we could.This memoir seems to be Ford's attempt to give his witness of the lives of two ordinary, unremarkable people and perhaps to fix in his own mind his memories of them. Maybe it is his acknowledgement, too, that he wouldn't be the man he is, seventy-two years on, had it not been for them and his experiences as their son. Of course, the truth is he wouldn't be, period, had it not been for them. A child never really experiences what life is like for his/her parents. How indeed can we ever truly understand the inner lives of even the people closest to us? The borders of their minds are closed to us. But Richard Ford, the observer, has put together his memories of actual events with his imagination and supposition of what his parents' lives must have been like, how they responded to events, what they felt. In doing so, he has given us an affectionate, insightful, and altogether tender portrait of two white people born in the South in the early part of the 20th century; two ordinary people who never made headlines or were noticed by the world outside their own circle of friends and family. And yet they managed to produce one extraordinary writer.
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  • Karyl
    May 26, 2017
    One of my self-imposed chores is the family's ironing, done about once a week while standing at the ironing board in the laundry room. Too lazy to bring the board and iron out to the living room so I can watch tv, instead I have a radio tuned to Rhode Island's NPR station. It was then that I heard Terry Gross interview Richard Ford regarding this memoir of his parents, and I knew immediately that it was a book I'd be interested in.This memoir is more of a musing on the relationship of Ford's par One of my self-imposed chores is the family's ironing, done about once a week while standing at the ironing board in the laundry room. Too lazy to bring the board and iron out to the living room so I can watch tv, instead I have a radio tuned to Rhode Island's NPR station. It was then that I heard Terry Gross interview Richard Ford regarding this memoir of his parents, and I knew immediately that it was a book I'd be interested in.This memoir is more of a musing on the relationship of Ford's parents with each other than it is a true retelling of their lives. There isn't a whole lot of information to go on; neither his mother nor his father seemed to be forthcoming with events of their childhood or their young adulthood. Frequently Ford admits he knows little of their lives, or what year an event took place, but the emotional impact of that event is clear. His mother Edna, born to a 14 year old girl herself, was eventually packed off to a Catholic school when her mother wanted to marry a new, younger man. But only two years later, she was taken out of school and put to work, and it was around then that she met her future husband Parker.It's somewhat amazing that Edna and Parker found one another. They weren't from the same town, which is unusual in the early 1900s when people didn't move around nearly as much, and their lives weren't terribly similar. But they shared a love that seemed almost transcendent, leaping off the page and becoming its own character in Ford's memoir. Edna was the only woman for Parker, and Parker the only man for Edna. And once Parker died of a heart attack at the age of 55, a piece of Edna died too. She never really lived life fully after that; she was just existing. The love of her life was gone, far too early.I really enjoyed this book, even though I haven't read anything else by Ford (although it's been made quite clear that I should). I think this is an important book for my generation and for those to come, to show that life doesn't have to be amazing and fantastic, that the extraordinary can be found in the most ordinary of lives, that a life fully lived doesn't have to look like the glitz and glimmer of the fake reality of social media. One can find a soul mate and do nothing more than love that person fully for one's entire life, and that's extraordinary enough.Ford's parents had one of those rare foundations built truly on a love and respect for another (though they did fight, and not well, according to Ford). Their love had nothing to do with him, so had Parker survived into the empty nest years, Edna and he would have had a lovely life, not one wishing for the distractions of kids and their schedules to bridge the gap between the two. Ford himself almost seems like a bit of an afterthought between Parker and Edna, not that Ford sees this as a slight of himself or of his parents. Read this to enjoy a depiction of an ordinary life well lived, of not being disappointed in your lot because you didn't expect the moon. I look forward to reading Ford's novels and comparing them to this.
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  • Lucy Somerhalder
    May 26, 2017
    2 stars for the first half about his father, but 5 for the second half about his mother. The second half was intimate and insightful and occasionally uncomfortable to read, but I enjoyed every page.
  • Tina Hansen
    April 29, 2017
    I simply adore Richard Ford! There's a reason why he is one of the greatest contemporary American writers. His skills to portray the everyday life is remarkable and there is so much truth in his words. Now he gives us the story of his parents - separately, together, with him, the child between them - and he writes with such tenderness and sincere reflection. Imagine him telling you this story face to face, cause that's how it feels. An excellent and joyful read.
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  • Suzanne
    January 9, 2017
    This is a beautifully rendered portrait of the author's parents; it's really two novellas each devoted to one parent. Remarkably, the author is a late, only child who has managed to make the story about his parents rather than about himself. Despite his age at their respective deaths, entering adolescence and then early adulthood, making his struggles with anger/growing up hard to temper in the retelling. These are parents whose lives, dreams and loves are noteworthy for their plainness and for This is a beautifully rendered portrait of the author's parents; it's really two novellas each devoted to one parent. Remarkably, the author is a late, only child who has managed to make the story about his parents rather than about himself. Despite his age at their respective deaths, entering adolescence and then early adulthood, making his struggles with anger/growing up hard to temper in the retelling. These are parents whose lives, dreams and loves are noteworthy for their plainness and for the comfort they offer their son so many years later. A wonder of an elegy and a powerful tale of lives in the early part of the 20th Century. I received my copy from the publisher through Edelweiss."Death starts a long time ahead of when it arrives."
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  • Alice
    May 29, 2017
    Taken in two parts, Richard Ford writes about his parents. The earlier half of the book, written last, is about his father and the latter part his mother. This book is atmospheric in the simple tone of a childhood era I share, partly, with the author. I felt enfolded into the narrative as it grew on me. I was left at the end of the book, glad I had read it and wishing for time to write of my own childhood and about my own parents.Powerful and personal, I am glad for the glimpse into this remarka Taken in two parts, Richard Ford writes about his parents. The earlier half of the book, written last, is about his father and the latter part his mother. This book is atmospheric in the simple tone of a childhood era I share, partly, with the author. I felt enfolded into the narrative as it grew on me. I was left at the end of the book, glad I had read it and wishing for time to write of my own childhood and about my own parents.Powerful and personal, I am glad for the glimpse into this remarkably intimate view of the author's parents' lives as he awakens to their connectedness to him.
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  • Nancy
    March 17, 2017
    This is a very moving and thought provoking memoir about the author's parents. Although their lives were 'unremarkable' in many ways, Ford's attempts to see them as individuals (as opposed to 'parents') brings up many emotions in the reader. It is a short book but very powerful in what it has to say about our relationships with our parents and their relationship with each other . I caused me to reflect on my own parents lives, what I know about them as individuals and what I will never know.I hi This is a very moving and thought provoking memoir about the author's parents. Although their lives were 'unremarkable' in many ways, Ford's attempts to see them as individuals (as opposed to 'parents') brings up many emotions in the reader. It is a short book but very powerful in what it has to say about our relationships with our parents and their relationship with each other . I caused me to reflect on my own parents lives, what I know about them as individuals and what I will never know.I highly recommend this book ,especially for those from the 'boomer' generation.
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  • Diane Prokop
    March 16, 2017
    Sublime. He turns the memoir genre upside down. Completely riveting.
  • Emily Grelle
    May 6, 2017
    "I remark on this not because of its susceptibility to romance, or because I think it makes my mother's life unique, but because it seems like such a long time ago now, and such a far-off and unknowable place; and because it is my mother, whom I knew very well, who links me to that foreignness, that other thing that I don't know much about and never did. This is one quality of our lives with out parents that is often overlooked, and so devalued. Our parents intimately link us, closeted as we are "I remark on this not because of its susceptibility to romance, or because I think it makes my mother's life unique, but because it seems like such a long time ago now, and such a far-off and unknowable place; and because it is my mother, whom I knew very well, who links me to that foreignness, that other thing that I don't know much about and never did. This is one quality of our lives with out parents that is often overlooked, and so devalued. Our parents intimately link us, closeted as we are in our lives, to a thing we're not, forging a joined separateness and a useful mystery, so that even together with them we are also alone." 91-92"There was a life's worth of small events. I have remembered more than I do now. I've written down memories, disguised as salient events into novels, told stories again and again to keep them within my reach. But pieces can stand for the whole well enough. Though each must make a difference to me or I wouldn't remember them so well." 108"My parents were, after all, not made of words. They were not literary instruments employable to conjure something larger." 170"There is almost no one alive who knew them. And I am, for that reason, the only one who knows these stories and can preserve these memories--at least until now." 172
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  • Valeri Drach
    May 21, 2017
    If you're thinking about writing your own memoir Fords remembrance of his parents might give you an idea of how to write the parts before your birth. Ford, who is an excellent novelist, writes a lot about parents in Canada, his Pulitzer Prize winning novel. But the fictional parents are not the beloved parents he grew up with as he describes in Between Them: Remembering My Parents. Each parent gets their own essay because his father dies when Ford is only 16 years old. A lot is left unsaid about If you're thinking about writing your own memoir Fords remembrance of his parents might give you an idea of how to write the parts before your birth. Ford, who is an excellent novelist, writes a lot about parents in Canada, his Pulitzer Prize winning novel. But the fictional parents are not the beloved parents he grew up with as he describes in Between Them: Remembering My Parents. Each parent gets their own essay because his father dies when Ford is only 16 years old. A lot is left unsaid about his traveling salesman dad, Parker Ford, who was gone from home Monday through Friday. He was closer to his mother, Edna (Akin) Ford, who was there for him weekdays, weekends and lived until Ford was in his 40s. He seems to take after her more also in looks and demeanor. He has the novelist's excellent eye in catching their good qualities while also gently noticing their humanness between the lines. Ford tells us, that although he has always thought he had an excellent childhood, he realized that his parents had a long and complete life before he was born, 15 years. He lets us know that he felt their lives were complete without him, that he somehow got between them. Its interesting to also note that he describes having an excellent marriage and no children.
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  • Nicola Pierce
    May 14, 2017
    For many years now Richard Ford has been my number one novelist and I was intrigued to hear he had written a memoir about his parents ... actually, bewildered might be a better description. It's beautifully written, of course it is, and I read it in two sittings. Finishing it left me sad and anxious about how much time I had left with my parents. And I'd be lying if I didn't wish he had put more of himself in there, even though I understand he was concentrated solely on his father and mother and For many years now Richard Ford has been my number one novelist and I was intrigued to hear he had written a memoir about his parents ... actually, bewildered might be a better description. It's beautifully written, of course it is, and I read it in two sittings. Finishing it left me sad and anxious about how much time I had left with my parents. And I'd be lying if I didn't wish he had put more of himself in there, even though I understand he was concentrated solely on his father and mother and, therefore, only portrays himself as their son so don't expect to learn anything at all about Ford's progress as a reader and writer. It did occur to me that this book was only published because of who wrote it because, essentially, his parents led quiet, mundane lives that are treated gently and elegantly. Ford succeeds in not exaggerating them in any way. The photographs are wonderful and I understand how they might have pushed him to want to write about them. I can't help wondering if it will mean much, much more to a reader who has lost one or both parents. And I just come back to the fact that it is beautifully written and will, I feel, stay with me for a while.
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  • R.
    May 10, 2017
    He and SheThis may not be everybody's cup of tea, this gentle and elegantly written memoir of parents who, well, did the best they could, loved the best the could, and were, at times, as with all parents, sadly absent in their presence and supernaturally present in their absence. I doubt this will find a wide audience except among fans of Ford's previous fiction and, say, knitting-needle book clubs, mainly because Ford's parents were not serial killers, were not stunning stars of this stage or t He and SheThis may not be everybody's cup of tea, this gentle and elegantly written memoir of parents who, well, did the best they could, loved the best the could, and were, at times, as with all parents, sadly absent in their presence and supernaturally present in their absence. I doubt this will find a wide audience except among fans of Ford's previous fiction and, say, knitting-needle book clubs, mainly because Ford's parents were not serial killers, were not stunning stars of this stage or that screen, were not anything but quiet and humble, with ups and downs, happinesses and sadnesses and dreaming all the Norman Rockwell dreams that you'd expect of a Mid-Century American couple. And good on Ford for not using the memories of his parents to segue into some sort of self-congratulatory essay or bitter aside about how lucky it was of him to have become a novelist despite such a humble background, and, boy, if his parents could see him now. All in all, this would make a good Mother's Day stocking stuffer.
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  • Betsy Johnson
    May 20, 2017
    I usually enjoy Richard Ford's work but the tone of this book left me a bit bemused. I never felt like I really got to know either of his parents, despite the fact that this book is supposed to be a portrait of them. While in many ways he left himself out of the book to focus on his parents, that felt like a poor decision. This is a personal book, meaningful to the author, but really only to the reader as it relates to the author. Without learning more about how his parents and his relationship I usually enjoy Richard Ford's work but the tone of this book left me a bit bemused. I never felt like I really got to know either of his parents, despite the fact that this book is supposed to be a portrait of them. While in many ways he left himself out of the book to focus on his parents, that felt like a poor decision. This is a personal book, meaningful to the author, but really only to the reader as it relates to the author. Without learning more about how his parents and his relationship with them affected the outcome of his own life, the book feels strangely isolated. It was lovely of Ford to honor and immortalize his parents by writing about them, but I wonder at the necessity of actually publishing it.
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  • Toto
    May 11, 2017
    Masterful, if not overly self-important and cloyingly maudlin at times, memoir of The Great Richard Ford's parents. Ford does not do levity; he takes everything, especially himself much too much seriously -- so much so that sometimes he embarrasses himself (see his article in the Guardian not too long ago about why he would not, could not, go fishing with Donald Trump. The phrase, who cares, comes to mind, but I digress.) Here the tone is exhaustingly grave, again. In fact, it is so acutely, hum Masterful, if not overly self-important and cloyingly maudlin at times, memoir of The Great Richard Ford's parents. Ford does not do levity; he takes everything, especially himself much too much seriously -- so much so that sometimes he embarrasses himself (see his article in the Guardian not too long ago about why he would not, could not, go fishing with Donald Trump. The phrase, who cares, comes to mind, but I digress.) Here the tone is exhaustingly grave, again. In fact, it is so acutely, humorlessly somber at times that you read it again looking for the great tragedies that beset his family. There were no more allotted to him than any other family alive, so the only thing interesting here is the writing itself. Which is superb.
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  • Joe
    May 20, 2017
    I struggled between 3 and 4 stars. This was a fast read, well written from a mechanical sense and at times interesting; but I am inclined to agree with the reviews that said Ford seems distant from his parents. I appreciate his explanation that he did not seek to aggrandize their lives and, effectively that they were simple people who wouldn't have made grand statements in any case. However, I felt that he was cheating when he said that his goal was to arrange the composition -- because the most I struggled between 3 and 4 stars. This was a fast read, well written from a mechanical sense and at times interesting; but I am inclined to agree with the reviews that said Ford seems distant from his parents. I appreciate his explanation that he did not seek to aggrandize their lives and, effectively that they were simple people who wouldn't have made grand statements in any case. However, I felt that he was cheating when he said that his goal was to arrange the composition -- because the most powerful part of the work is the end of his mother's life where he inserts his own views. And why wasn't that possible elsewhere?
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  • Evelyn
    May 25, 2017
    The author reminisces about the lives of his parents. Although well-written, the book is marred by its repetitiveness and its lack of depth in his descriptions of the lives of his father and mother as well as their relationship with him and his wife. It is clear from the book that the author lacks information about his parents and their antecedents for many reasons, and that his relationship with them as seen from a distance of over 30 years after their deaths was not very close, although he did The author reminisces about the lives of his parents. Although well-written, the book is marred by its repetitiveness and its lack of depth in his descriptions of the lives of his father and mother as well as their relationship with him and his wife. It is clear from the book that the author lacks information about his parents and their antecedents for many reasons, and that his relationship with them as seen from a distance of over 30 years after their deaths was not very close, although he did love them.
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  • Steve Coscia
    June 1, 2017
    Interesting memoirs - written 30 years apart. Richard Ford writes with economy - many short, descriptive sentences that say more with less words.Readers will no doubt reflect on their own childhood and parents while reading this book, regardless of where one was born and raised. This book also contains nostalgic and keen descriptions of automobiles, homes, highways and restaurants that add to the period's ambiance. A fast read.
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  • T P Kennedy
    May 23, 2017
    It's slight and reads more like two essays than a memoir. That said, it's a compelling read. Ford finds the humanity in both his parents and portrays them with texture and nuance. The tone of slight detachment lends this greater force than a more emotive account would. Another masterful volume from one of the masters of American literature.
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  • Steve Peifer
    May 29, 2017
    Touching, effecting and never anything but honest, this portrait of his parents is as understated powerful as anything I've read this year. I bet that I'm not the only one who starts on the road of trying to go deeper into the mystery of their parents.
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  • Cassie
    May 17, 2017
    It was peek into the author's mind/memories/perceptions. There was some good nuggets, but he remained distant from his parents and did not really see to uncover the essence of their stories or the true impact they had on him. Somewhat disappointing overall.
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  • Mary
    May 27, 2017
    I'm disappointed in this memoir...nothing seems close. Ford's father dies early. Having been a traveling salesman, Ford never really became close to his dad. And it seems like his mother kept him somewhat at arms length as well.
  • Gill
    May 8, 2017
    This is a beautiful small book, very intense and personal. Richard Ford honours the memory of his parents, he doesn't judge them or get overly sentimental. A fascinating insight into the life and times of one area of the USA in the 1940s and 50s. Definitely worth reading.
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  • Donna
    May 11, 2017
    Books don't often bring me to tears; this one did, as only great literature can. In 192 pages Ford says more about life than many authors say in their entire oeuvre. Powerful & unforgettable, his words have touched my soul. . .
  • Alison
    June 1, 2017
    Twin biographies of the author's parents - the most striking aspect of the book was in descriptions of life from the 30s to the 50s.
  • Allison
    May 27, 2017
    Very readable but not an exceptional story.
  • Stephen Murley
    May 31, 2017
    A must read if you are a fan of Richard Ford. A touching memoir of his mother and father and his early life as an only child.
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