How Not to be a 'Dickhead'

Partisan Politics in Richard Ford's Independence Day

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 Wilfrid Laurier University tdobozy@wlu.ca
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Richard Ford's Independence Day (1995) was the first novel to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. The novel continues the story of Frank Bascombe, begun in Ford's 1986 novel, The Sportswriter. By the time of Independence Day, Bascombe has given up sports-writing for real estate (and a sideline business of running a hot-dog stand, where he employs a Republican by the name of Karl Bemish). While significant portions of the novel involve Bascombe practising his trade, the novel's primary storyline involves his tour of various sports halls of fame with his son, Paul, over the course of the 4th of July weekend in 1988. The aim of the pilgrimage is to connect with Paul – a teenager who has run foul of the law and his stepfather, Charley O'Dell, who has married Bascombe's ex-wife, Ann – but it allows Bascombe to digress on the merits of real estate, 'The Declaration of Independence', marriage/divorce/parenting, and, most important for this paper, the differences between liberalism and conservatism.

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