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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Registration for fall 2018 is ongoing. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


If you are interested in traveling with the Houston Seminar to Natchez October 26-29, 2019 you may access the itinerary, trip cost, and registration documents here.

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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 on Wednesday, November 14 is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. A second session has been added and will meet Monday, November 12 from 2:00-3:30 P.M. Registrations are being accepted for November 12. You may register online, or by phone.


Who Gets to Vote: Challenges for the 2020 Elections?
Speaker: Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Rights Project
Monday, November 19, 6:30-8:00 P.M.
Location to be announced


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