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The Pulitzer-Prize Winning novel for 1996.In this visionary sequel to The Sportswriter, Richard Ford deepens his portrait of one of the most unforgettable characters in American fiction, and in so doing gives us an indelible portrait of America.Frank Bascombe, in the aftermath of his divorce and the ruin of his career, has entered an "Existence Period," selling real estate in Haddam, New Jersey, and mastering the high-wire act of normalcy. But over one Fourth of July weekend, Frank is called into sudden, bewildering engagement with life.Independence Day is a moving, peerlessly funny odyssey through America and through the layered consciousness of one of its most compelling literary incarnations, conducted by a novelist of astonishing empathy and perception.
Published: VintageAnchor an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on
ISBN: 9780307763808
List price: $11.99
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Availability for Independence Day: Bascombe Trilogy (2)
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A depressed REALTOR describes a modern, old roots New England town -- eerily similar to my own. Frank, a lost, self-absorbed, white guy going through the motions of life, walks us through three days on a holiday weekend. Independence Day is a very good book technically, in that it conveys a slice of life. I do get it. I feel it, a vapid suburban existence with all the trappings of 'success" but none of the soul. I get it, yes, thank you for reproducing it with words - wow that's craft, art, whatever. But I don't want it. I want mystery and comedy, characters who transcend or who succumb to their problems both profound and trivial, rather than mire in them. I am interested in stories of true desperation and struggle, and not in the whining of a white guy living a straitened life, whose moment of passion arrives during his son’s medical emergency – a hit to the eye by a fast pitch baseball machine in a batting cage. Oh god. Even that is not a crisis of major proportions, though it become so in this book. Depression sucks, and Frank is depressed, and thus a pain in the ass to be around. He has more than the rest of the world -- a roof over his head, lots of clean, cheap water, heat, electricity; kids he COULD love, talents he COULD use, a stable society in which he CAN do whatever the hell he pleases without fear of prison, torture, harassment. Depression is a waste of time, and so, no matter how good this book might be technically, I dumped Frank as a depressed fiction who I don't need or want in my life. No time to waste on Frank, sorry. I don't accept that Frank represents suburban life or that Independence day is an accurate social portrait. To me, Frank represents Frank. And if he is more common than I believe it should be no wonder that religion has had such a revival; religion has feeling, and passion and depth compared to this guy's desperate, robotic, salesman success formulas. To me he is Willy Loman without the grave sin, without the passion. He is neither Everyman, nor a "typical" suburban guy.more
Frank Bascombe has entered his Existence Period. It’s that time in his life when he is unconnected to those around him, cut off from his ex-wife and two children who have decamped to Deep River, uncommitted to the current woman he is seeing, and fundamentally distant from himself. He tools around Haddam, New Jersey, in his large automobile, encased in a kind of protective shell, observing, noting, scoping out the particulars of properties he may be in line to shift in his new career as a realtor, idling at the curb and in his own life. But the Existence Period is unstable, bound to collapse at the first sign of real emotion, whether that be despair or hope in the face of tragedy. And tragedy is definitely lurking. Everywhere. A momentous Fourth of July weekend descends into a nightmarish world of crazed house purchasers, senseless murder, self harm and mutilation, and the constant threat of violence meted out by others or oneself (if one’s impulses are given free rein), which is met by vigilance in the form of patrolling police, private security, metal bars on domestic windows, handguns, or mace. Or it is allowed to overwhelm one, washing through one’s life like a purging torrent. And there is little doubt that Frank, loquaciously professing platitudes and realtor buzz to stoke up the confidence of himself and his clients, is not up to the challenges that he is about to face. Little wonder that it seems highly likely that his Existence Period is about to come crashing to a close.Once again Richard Ford’s writing is a marvel of density and light. He effortlessly draws the reader into claustrophobic inducing proximity to Frank’s mutable conscience and visceral encounter with his environment. Much of what we encounter here is remembered experience—a lot of ground has been covered between the end of The Sportswriter and the time of Independence Day. But how much of that reported experience is dependable? Frank is such a cocktail of conflicted emotions and aspirations overlaid with jaw-dropping rationalizations. A reader can’t help but begin to feel sorry for him (even if he isn’t especially likeable). You begin rooting for him to break the surface of his supposedly placid Existence Period even if doing so may destroy him.And break through he does, though not in any way he would have planned or wished. And change does look set to come to Deep River and to Haddam. Crazed homebuyers transform into peaceable renters. The literally barking mad are rendered merely speechless. And Frank looks hopefully toward his next period, which may, he tells himself, be his Permanent Period. Riveting reading. Highly recommended.more
A work of ideas and characters with little plot action. The dialog is stilted and weighed down with subtext. The narrator's internal dialog chews the same meatless bones over and over. It won a prestigious award and reads like it.more
Beginning with Lay of the Land, I'm reading the trilogy backwards. (Don't ask why.) I can't wait to see how it all started. Yes, as per other reviewers, Ford is excruciatingly, obsessively self-reflexive and I love it. I luxuriate in all the particulars; in his harrowingly accurate insights into middle age.The man can take four pages to decide to ring a doorbell. He writes the way we'd think if we allowed ourselves the time. Independence Day is so chock full of mundane wonders, I couldn't care less if nothing much transpires. When so many are "showing, not telling," Ford -- perhaps as well as anyone since Bellow -- is telling you everything you could possibly never want to know. Highly recommended, but only if you can relax with it, slurp up all the details and go back at it with a bit of bread to wipe up the last drops.more
reminds me of a kinder, gentler Updikemore
Marie-Antoinette, known as Antonia as a child, grew up as the youngest daughter of Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria, a mother who demanded no less than perfection and dedicated herself to making politically advantageous marriages for her many children. In 1768, the year Antonia turns thirteen, her mother determines to marry her off to Louis-Auguste, the heir to the throne of France, who is one year older than Antonia. From that day forward, everything changes for her. Everything must be perfect - she must look perfect, learn to speak French perfectly, and perfectly memorize the many tedious rules of etiquette practiced at the French court. Now more than ever, her life is no longer her own.After much tedious education and perfection of her looks, Antonia finally sets off to marry Louis-Auguste in 1770. She must leave behind everything of her former life and give up her Austrian identity, including her name - she is now to be known by her new French name, Marie-Antoinette. At the court of Versailles, she is miserable. She feels unwelcome by many who do not want their future queen to be Austrian, and the many rules that govern her every action at court are stifling. In addition, her marriage is unhappy and she fears she might not produce an heir to the throne and be sent home in disgrace. Determined to at least be happy in some way, she throws caution to the wind, disregards the rules of court life, and decides to live a life of luxury, parties, and entertainments - angering the people of France, who suffer from increasing poverty.The Bad Queen is a fascinating look at the life of Marie-Antoinette from the when she is a young teenager, through the French Revolution, when her own daughter, Marie-Therese, concludes her tragic story. It paints a sympathetic portrait of Marie-Antoinette, and shows how she was not truly a bad or evil person, but simply a girl who at far too young an age was married to a boy who had not been prepared to be a king, leading to poor choices that ultimately caused their downfall. I highly recommend this book, and the other Young Royals books, to readers who enjoy young adult historical fiction.more
The second of a trilogy--the story of Frank Bascomb continues, this time during his "Existence Period." The book takes place over the 4th of July holiday weekend as Frank takes a road trip with his troubled son Paul. Frank's new "lady friend" Sally Caldwell is introduced with no real idea where the relationship will go. Frank continues to try to deal with his divorce from Ann, after seven long years and Ann's remarriage. This book isn't as good as the first in the trilogy--The Sportswriter--because it seems to be in a holding pattern or merely a precursor to a strong finish to the trilogy.more
I'll be the first to admit I had a hard time finishing this book. The story seemed incredibly drawn out, and the characters weren't all that engaging. For me, while I could appreciate the story and the writing, I simply couldn't help coming back to the fact that, in the end, I simply didn't care. I could have just as easily put the book down for months as for hours or days, and finishing quickly became a chore instead of a pleasure.more
It is of the most American novels I have ever read in my life, and incredibly good at it, especially at describing small town America. I loved it that way, even though it made it a bit tedious for me from time to time- I don’t know a thing about baseball, for example, and am not really interested in basketball either. I felt like I was on one of my real life road trips across the States, met real small town people and overheard real conversations. They were so very real, so typical, and the exchanges so well observed and overheard that it all made me chuckle from time to time. It had quite a few interesting comments on writing, and life in general.more
This book seems to be about how a boring man spends his 4th of July weekend, in every boring detail. I don't know how this won a Pulitzer, as this is the worst book I have read in a very long time. It was 400 pages of a minute by minute (practically) account of nothing and his incredibly boring thoughts behind the nothingness. Right up there in worst books ever read.more
The real time musings for a weekend in the life of a middle age realtor during his self proclaimed "existence period". The writing is beautiful; the main character is remarkably well developed - yet the highlights of the book are the short, almost throw away, tidbits on the human condition. His comments on real estate, on working, on parenting, on loving capture the essence and absurdity of life. There are two more books centered on Frank Bascombe - they are moving to the top of my TBR pile.more
read this a while ago - and will do so again I think, and have the new one. Also recently read a bundle of short stoies - bleaksville!!!!but wonderful.more
Excellent. Ford has a ear for the way white, middle aged men think and feel. But this is also a deeply philosophical novel that touches on some eternal themes (happiness, death, the meaning of life). There are some beautiful, stand alone passages and some very funny, satirical set pieces. A true tour de force.more
I finally read this Pulitzer prize winner. I really liked the ruminative writing, the calm attention to setting all aspects of a scene, interiorly and exteriorly. I read it slowly and with interest till about the last 50 pages, when I finally got a little tired of noting really happening.more
The best of this trilogymore
Second time I've read this - first time was as soon as I got it. Enjoyedit more the second time I think. It's quite a long read but he fits so much into a few short days and I'd love to know what happened next!more
Read all 21 reviews

Reviews

A depressed REALTOR describes a modern, old roots New England town -- eerily similar to my own. Frank, a lost, self-absorbed, white guy going through the motions of life, walks us through three days on a holiday weekend. Independence Day is a very good book technically, in that it conveys a slice of life. I do get it. I feel it, a vapid suburban existence with all the trappings of 'success" but none of the soul. I get it, yes, thank you for reproducing it with words - wow that's craft, art, whatever. But I don't want it. I want mystery and comedy, characters who transcend or who succumb to their problems both profound and trivial, rather than mire in them. I am interested in stories of true desperation and struggle, and not in the whining of a white guy living a straitened life, whose moment of passion arrives during his son’s medical emergency – a hit to the eye by a fast pitch baseball machine in a batting cage. Oh god. Even that is not a crisis of major proportions, though it become so in this book. Depression sucks, and Frank is depressed, and thus a pain in the ass to be around. He has more than the rest of the world -- a roof over his head, lots of clean, cheap water, heat, electricity; kids he COULD love, talents he COULD use, a stable society in which he CAN do whatever the hell he pleases without fear of prison, torture, harassment. Depression is a waste of time, and so, no matter how good this book might be technically, I dumped Frank as a depressed fiction who I don't need or want in my life. No time to waste on Frank, sorry. I don't accept that Frank represents suburban life or that Independence day is an accurate social portrait. To me, Frank represents Frank. And if he is more common than I believe it should be no wonder that religion has had such a revival; religion has feeling, and passion and depth compared to this guy's desperate, robotic, salesman success formulas. To me he is Willy Loman without the grave sin, without the passion. He is neither Everyman, nor a "typical" suburban guy.more
Frank Bascombe has entered his Existence Period. It’s that time in his life when he is unconnected to those around him, cut off from his ex-wife and two children who have decamped to Deep River, uncommitted to the current woman he is seeing, and fundamentally distant from himself. He tools around Haddam, New Jersey, in his large automobile, encased in a kind of protective shell, observing, noting, scoping out the particulars of properties he may be in line to shift in his new career as a realtor, idling at the curb and in his own life. But the Existence Period is unstable, bound to collapse at the first sign of real emotion, whether that be despair or hope in the face of tragedy. And tragedy is definitely lurking. Everywhere. A momentous Fourth of July weekend descends into a nightmarish world of crazed house purchasers, senseless murder, self harm and mutilation, and the constant threat of violence meted out by others or oneself (if one’s impulses are given free rein), which is met by vigilance in the form of patrolling police, private security, metal bars on domestic windows, handguns, or mace. Or it is allowed to overwhelm one, washing through one’s life like a purging torrent. And there is little doubt that Frank, loquaciously professing platitudes and realtor buzz to stoke up the confidence of himself and his clients, is not up to the challenges that he is about to face. Little wonder that it seems highly likely that his Existence Period is about to come crashing to a close.Once again Richard Ford’s writing is a marvel of density and light. He effortlessly draws the reader into claustrophobic inducing proximity to Frank’s mutable conscience and visceral encounter with his environment. Much of what we encounter here is remembered experience—a lot of ground has been covered between the end of The Sportswriter and the time of Independence Day. But how much of that reported experience is dependable? Frank is such a cocktail of conflicted emotions and aspirations overlaid with jaw-dropping rationalizations. A reader can’t help but begin to feel sorry for him (even if he isn’t especially likeable). You begin rooting for him to break the surface of his supposedly placid Existence Period even if doing so may destroy him.And break through he does, though not in any way he would have planned or wished. And change does look set to come to Deep River and to Haddam. Crazed homebuyers transform into peaceable renters. The literally barking mad are rendered merely speechless. And Frank looks hopefully toward his next period, which may, he tells himself, be his Permanent Period. Riveting reading. Highly recommended.more
A work of ideas and characters with little plot action. The dialog is stilted and weighed down with subtext. The narrator's internal dialog chews the same meatless bones over and over. It won a prestigious award and reads like it.more
Beginning with Lay of the Land, I'm reading the trilogy backwards. (Don't ask why.) I can't wait to see how it all started. Yes, as per other reviewers, Ford is excruciatingly, obsessively self-reflexive and I love it. I luxuriate in all the particulars; in his harrowingly accurate insights into middle age.The man can take four pages to decide to ring a doorbell. He writes the way we'd think if we allowed ourselves the time. Independence Day is so chock full of mundane wonders, I couldn't care less if nothing much transpires. When so many are "showing, not telling," Ford -- perhaps as well as anyone since Bellow -- is telling you everything you could possibly never want to know. Highly recommended, but only if you can relax with it, slurp up all the details and go back at it with a bit of bread to wipe up the last drops.more
reminds me of a kinder, gentler Updikemore
Marie-Antoinette, known as Antonia as a child, grew up as the youngest daughter of Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria, a mother who demanded no less than perfection and dedicated herself to making politically advantageous marriages for her many children. In 1768, the year Antonia turns thirteen, her mother determines to marry her off to Louis-Auguste, the heir to the throne of France, who is one year older than Antonia. From that day forward, everything changes for her. Everything must be perfect - she must look perfect, learn to speak French perfectly, and perfectly memorize the many tedious rules of etiquette practiced at the French court. Now more than ever, her life is no longer her own.After much tedious education and perfection of her looks, Antonia finally sets off to marry Louis-Auguste in 1770. She must leave behind everything of her former life and give up her Austrian identity, including her name - she is now to be known by her new French name, Marie-Antoinette. At the court of Versailles, she is miserable. She feels unwelcome by many who do not want their future queen to be Austrian, and the many rules that govern her every action at court are stifling. In addition, her marriage is unhappy and she fears she might not produce an heir to the throne and be sent home in disgrace. Determined to at least be happy in some way, she throws caution to the wind, disregards the rules of court life, and decides to live a life of luxury, parties, and entertainments - angering the people of France, who suffer from increasing poverty.The Bad Queen is a fascinating look at the life of Marie-Antoinette from the when she is a young teenager, through the French Revolution, when her own daughter, Marie-Therese, concludes her tragic story. It paints a sympathetic portrait of Marie-Antoinette, and shows how she was not truly a bad or evil person, but simply a girl who at far too young an age was married to a boy who had not been prepared to be a king, leading to poor choices that ultimately caused their downfall. I highly recommend this book, and the other Young Royals books, to readers who enjoy young adult historical fiction.more
The second of a trilogy--the story of Frank Bascomb continues, this time during his "Existence Period." The book takes place over the 4th of July holiday weekend as Frank takes a road trip with his troubled son Paul. Frank's new "lady friend" Sally Caldwell is introduced with no real idea where the relationship will go. Frank continues to try to deal with his divorce from Ann, after seven long years and Ann's remarriage. This book isn't as good as the first in the trilogy--The Sportswriter--because it seems to be in a holding pattern or merely a precursor to a strong finish to the trilogy.more
I'll be the first to admit I had a hard time finishing this book. The story seemed incredibly drawn out, and the characters weren't all that engaging. For me, while I could appreciate the story and the writing, I simply couldn't help coming back to the fact that, in the end, I simply didn't care. I could have just as easily put the book down for months as for hours or days, and finishing quickly became a chore instead of a pleasure.more
It is of the most American novels I have ever read in my life, and incredibly good at it, especially at describing small town America. I loved it that way, even though it made it a bit tedious for me from time to time- I don’t know a thing about baseball, for example, and am not really interested in basketball either. I felt like I was on one of my real life road trips across the States, met real small town people and overheard real conversations. They were so very real, so typical, and the exchanges so well observed and overheard that it all made me chuckle from time to time. It had quite a few interesting comments on writing, and life in general.more
This book seems to be about how a boring man spends his 4th of July weekend, in every boring detail. I don't know how this won a Pulitzer, as this is the worst book I have read in a very long time. It was 400 pages of a minute by minute (practically) account of nothing and his incredibly boring thoughts behind the nothingness. Right up there in worst books ever read.more
The real time musings for a weekend in the life of a middle age realtor during his self proclaimed "existence period". The writing is beautiful; the main character is remarkably well developed - yet the highlights of the book are the short, almost throw away, tidbits on the human condition. His comments on real estate, on working, on parenting, on loving capture the essence and absurdity of life. There are two more books centered on Frank Bascombe - they are moving to the top of my TBR pile.more
read this a while ago - and will do so again I think, and have the new one. Also recently read a bundle of short stoies - bleaksville!!!!but wonderful.more
Excellent. Ford has a ear for the way white, middle aged men think and feel. But this is also a deeply philosophical novel that touches on some eternal themes (happiness, death, the meaning of life). There are some beautiful, stand alone passages and some very funny, satirical set pieces. A true tour de force.more
I finally read this Pulitzer prize winner. I really liked the ruminative writing, the calm attention to setting all aspects of a scene, interiorly and exteriorly. I read it slowly and with interest till about the last 50 pages, when I finally got a little tired of noting really happening.more
The best of this trilogymore
Second time I've read this - first time was as soon as I got it. Enjoyedit more the second time I think. It's quite a long read but he fits so much into a few short days and I'd love to know what happened next!more
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