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Independence Day [Anglais] [Broché]

Richard Ford

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Description de l'ouvrage

17 août 2006
Frank Bascombe is no longer a sportswriter, yet he's still living in Haddam, New Jersey, where he now sells real estate. He's still divorced, though his ex-wife, to his dismay, has remarried and moved along with their children to Connecticut. But Frank is happy enough in his work and pursuing various civic and entrepreneurial sidelines. He has high hopes for this 4th of July weekend: a search for a house for deeply hapless clients relocating to Vermont; a rendezvous on the Jersey shore with his girlfriend; then up to Connecticut to pick up his larcenous and emotionally troubled teenage son and visit as many sports halls of fame as they can fit into two days. Frank's Independence Day, however, turns out not as he'd planned, and this decent, appealingly bewildered, profoundly observant man is wrenched, gradually and inevitably, out of his private refuge. Independence Day captures the mystery of life — in all its conflicted glory — with grand humour, intense compassion and transfixing power.
--Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

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Extrait

In Haddam, summer floats over tree-softened streets like a sweet lotion balm from a careless, languorous god, and the world falls in tune with its own mysterious anthems. Shaded lawns lie still and damp in the early a.m. Outside, on peaceful-morning Cleveland Street, I hear the footfalls of a lone jogger, tramping past and down the hill toward Taft Lane and across to the Choir College, there to run in the damp grass. In the Negro trace, men sit on stoops, pants legs rolled above their sock tops, sipping coffee in the growing, easeful heat. The marriage enrichment class (4 to 6) has let out at the high school, its members sleepy-eyed and dazed, bound for bed again. While on the green gridiron pallet our varsity band begins its two-a-day drills, revving up for the 4th: "Boom-Haddam, boom-Haddam, boom-boom-ba-boom. Haddam-Haddam, up'n-at-'em! Boom-boom-ba-boom!"

Elsewhere up the seaboard the sky, I know, reads hazy. The heat closes in, a metal smell clocks through the nostrils. Already the first clouds of a summer T-storm lurk on the mountain horizons, and it's hotter where they live than where we live. Far out on the main line the breeze is right to hear the Amtrak, "The Merchants' special," hurtle past for Philly. And along on the same breeze, a sea-salt smell floats in from miles and miles away, mingling with shadowy rhododendron aromas and the last of the summer's staunch azaleas.

Though back on my street, the first shaded block of Cleveland, sweet silence reigns. A block away, someone patiently bounces a driveway ball: squeak . . . then breathing . . . then a laugh, a cough . . . "All riiight, that's the waaay." None of it too loud. In front of the Zumbros', two doors down, the streets crew is finishing a quiet smoke before cranking their machines and unsettling the dust again. We're repaving this summer, putting in a new "line," resodding the neutral ground, setting new curbs, using our proud new tax dollars-the workers all Cape Verdeans and wily Hondurans from poorer towns north of here. Sergeantsville and Little York. They sit and stare silently beside their yellow front-loaders, ground flatteners and backhoes, their sleek private cars-Camaros and Chevy low-riders-parked around the corner, away from the dust and where it will be shady later on.

And suddenly the carillon at St. Leo the Great begins: gong, gong, gong, gong, gong, gong, then a sweet, bright admonitory matinal air by old Wesley himself: "Wake the day, ye who would be saved, wake the day, let your souls be laved."

Though all is not exactly kosher here, in spite of a good beginning. (When is anything exactly kosher?)

I myself, Frank Bascombe, was mugged on Coolidge Street, one street over, late in April, spiritedly legging it home from a closing at our realty office just at dusk, a sense of achievement lightening my step, stiff hoping to catch the evening news, a bottle of Roederer-a gift from a grateful seller I'd made a bundle for-under my arm. Three young boys, one of whom I thought I'd seen before-an Asian-yet couldn't later name, came careering ziggy-zaggy down the sidewalk on minibikes, conked me in the head with a giant Pepsi bottle, and rode off howling. Nothing was stolen or broken, though I was knocked silly on the ground, and sat in the grass for ten minutes, unnoticed in a whirling daze.

Later, in early May, the Zumbros' house and one other were burgled twice in the same week (they missed some things the first time and came back to get them).

And then, to all our bewilderment, Clair Devane, our one black agent, a woman I was briefly but intensely "linked with" two years ago, was murdered in May inside a condo she was showing out the Great Woods Road, near Hightstown: roped and tied, raped and stabbed. No good clues left-just a pink while-you-were-out slip lying in the parquet entry, the message in her own looping hand: "Luther family. Just started looking. Mid-90's. 3 p.m. Get key. Dinner with Eddie." Eddie was her fianc?.

Plus, falling property values now ride through the trees like an odorless, colorless mist settling through the still air where all breathe it in, all sense it, though our new amenities-the new police cruisers, the new crosswalks, the trimmed tree branches, the buried electric, the refurbished band shell, the plans for the 4th of July parade-do what they civically can to ease our minds off worrying, convince us our worries aren't worries, or at least not ours alone but everyone's-no one's-and that staying the course, holding the line, riding the cyclical nature of things are what this country's all about, and thinking otherwise is to drive optimism into retreat, to be paranoid and in need of expensive "treatment" out-of-state.

And practically speaking, while bearing in mind that one event rarely causes another in a simple way, it must mean something to a town, to the local esprit, for its values on the open market to fall. (Why else would real estate prices be an index to the national well-being?) If, for instance, some otherwise healthy charcoal briquette firm's stock took a nosedive, the company would react ASAP. Its "people" would stay at their desks an extra hour past dark (unless they were fired outright); men would go home more dog-tired than usual, carrying no flowers, would stand longer in the violet evening hours staring up at the tree limbs in need of trimming, would talk less kindly to their kids, would opt for an extra Pimm's before dinner alone with the wife, then wake oddly at four with nothing much, but nothing good, in mind. Just restless.

And so it is in Haddam, where all around, our summer swoon notwithstanding, there's a new sense of a wild world being just beyond our perimeter, an untallied apprehension among our residents, one I believe they'll never get used to, one they'll die before accommodating.

A sad fact, of course, about adult life is that you see the very things you'll never adapt to coming toward you on the horizon. You see them as the problems they are, you worry like hell about them, you make provisions, take precautions, fashion adjustments; you tell yourself you'll have to change your way of doing things. Only you don't. You can't. Somehow it's already too late. And maybe it's even worse than that: maybe the thing you see coming from far away is not the real thing, the thing that scares you, but its aftermath. And what you've feared will happen has already taken place. This is similar in spirit to the realization that all the great new advances of medical science will have no benefit for us at all, though we cheer them on, hope a vaccine might be ready in time, think things could still get better. Only it's too late there too. And in that very way our life gets over before we know it. We miss it. And like the poet said: "The ways we miss our lives are life."

This morning I am up early, in my upstairs office under the eaves, going over a listing logged in as an "Exclusive" just at closing last night, and for which I may already have willing buyers later today. Listings frequently appear in this unexpected, providential way: An owner belts back a few Manhattans, takes an afternoon trip around the yard to police up bits of paper blown from the neighbors' garbage, rakes the last of the winter's damp, fecund leaves from under the forsythia beneath which lies buried his old Dalmatian, Pepper, makes a close inspection of the hemlocks he and his wife planted as a hedge when they were young marrieds long ago, takes a nostalgic walk back through rooms he's painted, baths grouted far past midnight, along the way has two more stiff ones followed hard by a sudden great welling and suppressed heart's cry for a long-lost life we must all (if we care to go on living) let go of . . . And boom: in two minutes more he's on the phone, interrupting some realtor from a quiet dinner at home, and in ten more minutes the whole deed's done. It's progress of a sort. (By lucky coincidence, my clients the Joe Markhams will have driven down from Vermont this very night, and conceivably I could complete the circuit-listing to sale-in a single day's time. The record, not mine, is four minutes.)

My other duty this early morning involves writing the editorial for our firm's monthly "Buyer vs. Seller" guide (sent free to every breathing freeholder on the Haddam tax rolls). This month I'm fine-tuning my thoughts on the likely real estate fallout from the approaching Democratic Convention, when the uninspirational Governor Dukakis, spirit-genius of the sinister Massachusetts Miracle, will grab the prize, then roll on to victory in November-my personal hope, but a prospect that paralyzes most Haddam property owners with fear, since they're almost all Republicans, love Reagan like Catholics love the Pope, yet also feel dumbfounded and double-crossed by the clownish spectacle of Vice President Bush as their new leader. My arguing tack departs from Emerson's famous line in Self-Reliance, "To be great is to be misunderstood," which I've rigged into a thesis that claims Governor Dukakis has in mind more "pure pocketbook issues" than most voters think; that economic insecurity is a plus for the Democrats; and that interest rates, on the skids all year, will hit 11% by New Year's no matter if William Jennings Bryan is elected President and the silver standard reinstituted. (These sentiments also scare Republicans to death.) "So what the hell," is the essence of my clincher, "things could get worse in a hurry. Now's the time to test the realty waters. Sell! (or Buy)."

In these summery days my own life, at least frontally, is simplicity's model. I live happily if slightly bemusedly in a forty-four-year-old bachelor's way in my former wife's house at 116 Cleveland, in the "Presidents Streets" section of Haddam, New Jersey, where I'm employed as a Realtor Associate by the Lauren-Schwindell firm on Seminary Street. I should say, perhaps, the house formerly owned by formerly my wife, Ann Dykstra, now M... --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

Revue de presse

"An extraordinary epic.... nothing less than the story of the twentieth century itself." — The Times

"Frank Bascombe has earned a place beside Willy Loman and Harry Angstrom in our literary landscape...with a wry wit and a fin de siècle wisdom that is very much his own." — The New York Times Book Review

"Each flash of magical dialogue, every rumination a wild surprise.... Independence Day is a confirmation of a talent as strong and varied as American fiction has to offer." — The New York Review of Books

"A Babe Ruth of novelists.... One of the finest curators of the great American living museum." — Washington Post Book World

"One of his generation's most eloquent voices." — Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.

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Amazon.com: 3.5 étoiles sur 5  151 commentaires
70 internautes sur 73 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A brilliant internal monologue 21 mai 2002
Par J. Mullin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I agree with the reviewer (...) who raved about Richard Poe's brilliant reading of an unabridged, audio version of this book. Having read many of the divergent opinions listed here by Amazon readers, and remembering some of my own struggles to read authors like Tim Parks (whose narrators internalize much of the story and who digress often), it occurs to me that perhaps this story is better enjoyed on tape. I couldn't wait to get in my car every day and listen to Poe's witty, heart-felt rendition of Ford's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.
Independence Day is essentially an internal monologue, set on the long July 4th weekend of 1988. It is a sequel to Ford's earlier novel The Sportswriter, which I have yet to read, but I never got the impression I was missing anything due to lack of familiarity with the earlier novel. The protagonist is Frank Bascombe, a divorced, well-educated former sportswriter who now makes his living selling real estate in the affluent New Jersey town of Haddam, while supplementing his earnings with a couple of rental properties he owns in the town's African American neighborhood.
Bascombe is at something of a mid-life crisis. We learn that he has lost a son, and while he has been divorced from his wife for years, he still has feelings for her and secretly hopes for a reconciliation. At the same time, he is seen carrying on a half-hearted affair with a presumed widow whose husband left years earlier and never came back. Bascombe has planned to spend the long weekend with his troubled teenage son Paul, who is apparently battling some sort of mental illness or depression; for some unknown reason Bascombe decides to pick up his son in Connecticut, and drive to the basketball and baseball halls of fame in Springfield, Mass. and Cooperstown, N.Y.
Although quite a bit happens over the course of the three days, the novel is not necessarily plot-driven, and after you finish reading it (or better yet listening) you don't remember what happened nearly as much as you remember the characters themselves. In that respect it reminded me a little of a book like Richard Russo's Nobody's Fool, which I loved, although I now remember few details of the story. Frank's uneasy alliance with Paul, his guilt over taking him and not his sister away for the weekend, and his struggles to maintain his sanity over a long, stressful weekend were classic and very richly drawn by Ford. We learn Frank's thoughts at every turn, whenever he confronts another character, and at times the thoughts are brilliant, sad, funny or all of the above. For example, while trying to give his disinterested son a civics lesson on the meaning of Independence Day, Paul feigns confusion and asks a question or two, which the narrator Frank knows were really meant to mock him. Paul delights at ridiculing the hall of fame during the trip, while narrator Frank tries to keep up appearances and generate enthusiasm for displays like "Bob Lanier's shoes" while leafing through the color brochures.
There is an undercurrent of sadness and tragedy in the book, including Frank's own lost child and divorce, the earlier murder of another realtor at Bascombe's office, and even the death years earlier of a family pet in an accident, which still troubles Paul. However the novel has an upbeat tone about it, as if Frank has benefitted from therapy and is destined to look on the bright side even as other characters accuse him of being hard and uncaring. There is also plenty of humor in the book, made all the funnier by narrator Poe's excellent renditions of the character voices. Frank tries desperately to sell a house to a picky Vermont couple, and his partner in a strange "birch beer" and hot dog stand remains vigilant with his shotgun, ready to blast some suspicious Mexicans who he believes want to rob him.
All in all, the book has a voice which I found refreshing and amazingly true-to-life, with observations and asides that often had me laughing out loud or shaking my head at their poignant truth. I don't know from experience what thoughts abound in the head of a middle aged, divorced father who is estranged from his kids and who desperately wants to connect with them before it is too late, but I suspect Ford, in writing this book, got them exactly right. I recommend it highly, especially the audio version narrated by Richard Poe.
27 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Art of Being O.K. 8 août 1996
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
In Independence Day, Richard Ford chronicles with consummate
skill a few days in the life of a New Jersey sportswriter
turned real estate agent, Frank Bascombe.

With keen observations, outstanding descriptive
power and dialogue more real than "The Real World," Ford
pulls the strings of this great book masterfully.

Frank is in the midst of what he calls "The Existence
Period," a time when he has come to terms with his life
to date and moved on to the more uncharted waters of vaguely
contented middle-agedom. He has arrived at a crossroads
where he has plenty of past but still a lot of future left
ahead.

The novel's narrative flows like life itself - forward,
back, sideways - in a way that is so natural and consuming
that you would swear the character is you and his thoughts
are yours.

There is not a book that I have read that does better
justice to the realities of being human and adult in
today's world.

At its heart, Independence Day is the recording of two
worlds- the one we sense through our bodies and the one
that exists in our heads - and how these two interact in
a way that is sometimes painful, sometimes beautiful, and
most times just O.K.

To read it is to see yourself, and in many ways, all of us.

A must.
26 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Vastly Over-Written and Vastly Over-Praised 15 septembre 2006
Par Paul Cook - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
From the remarks at this site, people either love this novel or hate it. I hated it. I hated it for the reason that it represents all that is bad about MFA program writing in the last 30 years. The emphasis is entirely on STYLE. Forget story. Forget that your reader needs some reason to be reading the narrative. Just throw out and string together wonderful language and the reader will follow you anywhere. Some of this thinking goes back to Henry James, some of it goes back to Virginia Woolf who was so terrified of books with plots or dominating conceits (like H.G. Wells' THE TIME MACHINE). The first 100 pages of this novel are about a real estate deal and the people to whom Frank Bascombe is trying to sell a property. It's brilliantly written. In fact, it's so brilliantly written that I had a lot of problems seeing a former sportswriter being so introspective and articulate about his life, his loves, and the region of the country he inhabits. This book has no driving plot. In fact, it's an arbitrarily chosen conceit: what happens on July 4th in the life of one guy. It's not James Joyce's ULYSSES nor is it trying to be, but EVERY thought this man has is in this book. And none of it is related to a plot or story or any reason whatever why a person--any person--should pick up the book.

Indeed, that seems to be the crux. I read this book because it was by Richard Ford, a man whom all of my colleagues in the mainstream fiction world revere. You must read this book, they said. So I did. And I consider it an extraordinary waste of my time. To be sure, this is a judgment call, but I'm allowed to make it. EVERY reader is allowed to make that call. But I know I'm in the minority in this. This book is supposed to be one of the greatest American novels of the last 25 years. But will it be so in another 25 years? Are novels now only to be interior monologues (which Virginia Woolf preferred and said so in her essay "Modern Fiction")?

Perhaps our values are changing. Perhaps the MFA programs in this country are correct in only cultivating style rather than story. But what it eventually evolves into is a form of narcissism, wherein the author writes at length, putting on the page all of his or her thoughts about whatever and we're supposed to . . . what? Applaud it?

I believe that the authors we'll remember will be the natural storytellers. I don't think Richard Ford is one of them. But, man, he sure can write.
26 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Tedious but well-written 8 février 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I suppose I will never belong to the self-proclaimed literati, because while I can appreciate the fact that this book is very well written, still I believe that that is not enough in itself to make it a great book - certainly not a Putlizer-Prize winner. Having never read the prequel to this book, it's possible I've missed something crucial that could have contributed to my enjoyment of Independence Day. But as it was, I found it to be tedious, often boring, and almost transparently "deep" - as if Ford was more concerned with waxing philosophical than with telling a compelling story. There are so many authors out there who can both write well and tell a compelling story, that Ford is hardly the first author I would turn to.
22 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The best book I've ever read 5 mars 2002
Par C. Fletcher - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
In some respects, "Independence Day" is the best book I've ever read. Richard Ford is simply brilliant at capturing the uncapturable.
He is definitely the most skilled writer I've ever read when it comes to translating onto the page just what goes on in the human mind and heart as they struggle to cope with pain, loss, disappointment, and ultimately regeneration.
"Independence Day" is an interior monologue chronicling three days in the life of Frank Bascombe, former sportswriter turned realty agent, who is attempting to make some sort of real connection with his estranged teenage son. At the same time, Frank is struggling to be reborn from a self-imposed but seemingly inevitable cocoon of mid-life, post-divorce complacency, which he has termed "the existence period".
Ford's perception and empathy are his greatest tools as a writer. There are brilliantly beautiful moments of emotional honesty in this book that resonate like the searing afterimage of sunlight glimpsed on a stretch of side-of-the-road evening rail.
I cannot say enough good things about Richard Ford. I am in awe of him and would like to thank him for his wonderful contributions to my reading life. I highly recommend him to anyone who cares deeply about character and getting at what it means to be human. Ford once wrote, "If loneliness is the disease, the story is the cure." Nothing could be more true of this wonderful book.
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