On Monday 29th December 2014, 9-10pm GMT scholars Jennifer Daly (TCD) and Dr. Gillian Groszewski (TCD) joined Co-Editor Michelle Green (University of Nottingham) to discuss the fourth instalment in Richard Ford’s Bascombe series, his 2014 novella Let Me Be Frank With You. Catch up on their conversation in the storify below and see how they tackled Ford’s controversial representation of race, place, Hurricane Sandy and Obama’s legacy. Find out what they thought of Frank’s character development (does he develop?), his contradictions (can he really say “place means nothing” now?), and his future (is the last we have seen of Ford’s “uncommon man”?)
Jennifer Daly asked:
Q1. Ford has taken a lot of criticism for the representation of race in this book in particular. Is it justified, or is there something more complicated to be read in how he portrays Frank’s attitudes?
Q2. In the original Bascombe trilogy, Frank often stated that ‘place means nothing.’ Do we still believe him after reading these stories?
Michelle Green asked:
Q3. Reviews have identified Let Me Be Frank With You as a novella concerned with ageing and dying, but it is also a much broader exposition on the theme of “aftermath” (Hurricane Sandy, the financial crisis, Frank’s first marriage, Obama’s presidency). Does Ford do justice to Hurricane Sandy or does this event appear as little more than a convenient natural disaster to explore personal disaster and its survivors?
Q4. Is this the quintessential 2012 novella?
Dr. Gillian Groszewski asked:
Q5. Was it advantageous for Ford to move to the novella form for this Bascombe book?
Q6. Is the title Let Me Be Frank With You good enough?