Richard Ford’s Trilogy: The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land

Three Tuesdays , November 4 and 18 and December 2, 12:30–2:00 P.M. | Compass Bank Building, Second Floor, 2001 Kirby at San Felipe

With The Sportswriter (1986), Richard Ford began his story of the life and contemporary times of Frank Bascombe, a failed novelist turned sportswriter. Years later we again meet Frank in Independence Day (1999), where his floating freedom is redefined by needs and responsibilities he has tried to keep in an equipoise that isn’t quite denial. Independence Day won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The Lay of the Land (2006) is the final installment in Ford’s Frank Bascombe series. Frank is coolly conscious of all that he is and isn’t doing with his life, and Ford’s prose is delicately omnivorous of every detail of “the way we live now,” as Anthony Trollope would say. Frank is a complement to John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom and Philip Roth’s Nathan Zuckerman, characters who suggest that at this moment extremity is the norm. Frank, however, is more “normal” and completely satisfying nonetheless. The Times of London declared the trilology to be “an extraordinary epic [that] is nothing less than the story of the twentieth century itself.”

Terrence Doody, professor of English at Rice University, will prepare us for Richard Ford’s March 2009 visit to Houston by discussing the three novels in the order they are mentioned above.

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Fall 2018 brochures are out! Please let us know if you did not receive one and we will be happy to send one to you.

Registration is now open. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


The interest list for the fall and spring study tours is also now open. If you are interested in traveling with the Houston Seminar to Natchez in the fall of 2018 or Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy.


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. Please contact the registrar if you would like to be wait listed for this course. 


Have a great summer. We look forward to seeing you this fall!


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