The Lay of the Land

Bascombe Trilogy (3)

By Richard Ford
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679776673, 496pp.)

Publication Date: July 24, 2007

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National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A New York Times Best Book of the Year

A sportswriter and a real estate agent, husband and father –Frank Bascombe has been many things to many people. His uncertain youth behind him, we follow him through three days during the autumn of 2000, when his trade as a realtor on the Jersey Shore is thriving. But as a presidential election hangs in the balance, and a postnuclear-family Thanksgiving looms before him, Frank discovers that what he terms “the Permanent Period” is fraught with unforeseen perils. An astonishing meditation on America today and filled with brilliant insights, The Lay of the Land is a magnificent achievement from one of the most celebrated chroniclers of our time.

About the Author

The author of five earlier novels and three collections of stories, Richard Ford was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Independence Day, the first book to win both prizes. In 2001 he received the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in short fiction.

Conversation Starters from


  1. What do you make of the story that opens the novel: that of the community college teacher who, before being gunned down by one of her disgruntled students, was asked if she was ready to meet her maker and replied "Yes. Yes, I think I am." Why is Frank so riveted by this question? How does he think he might answer in similar circumstances? What does he mean when he says that "It's not a question . . . that suburban life regularly poses to us. Suburban life, in fact, pretty much does the opposite?" Is he right? How do the themes of death, self-accounting, and the terrifying randomness of the American berserker recur throughout The Lay of the Land?

Praise For The Lay of the Land

“Ford once again shows why he deserves to be hailed as one of the great American fiction novelists of his generation.” —The Washington Post Book World“By now, we have gotten to know Frank Bascombe well enough to take his measure, and to appreciate that, like almost no one else in our recent literature, he is life-size.” —The New York Times Book Review"The Lay of the Land . . . is distinct not only for its singular style but also because of its generosity. Ford shows that life is never easy and never placid. . . . Yet we keep moving forward for that occasional moment of pure understanding." —Chicago Sun-Times

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