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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Welcome to Spring 2018! 

Going Baroque!
Thursday, January 18, 7:30–9:00 p.m. | Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice Boulevard at Greenbriar. Parking information distributed to subscribers.


An Intimate Concert of Modern and Contemporary Music of Mexico
Tuesday, January 23, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Private home. Address to subscribers.

Comida en la Cuidad
Tuesday, February 6, noon | Caracol Restaurant, 2200 Post Oak Boulevard, 77056


Modern Architecture in Mexico City
Tuesday, February 20, 12:00-1:30 P.M. | Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University


Thomas Jefferson: The Essential Democrat
Three Wednesdays, February 21, 28 and March 7, 6:30-8:00 P.M. | Covenant Church, 4949 Caroline, 77004



For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.