Wildlife

Cover of book Wildlife
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Categories: Fiction

This is rather slight, but quite interesting and evocative. The longest and most important chapter in this slim volume depicts a sixteen year-old boy, his mother and her lover, all while the husband i

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s away fighting a fire. I believe the author's own father died when the author was sixteen, so there may well be a correlation. At any rate, the story conveys a sense of loss and confusion quite well indeed. It's the first Richard Ford book I've read but it won't be the last - I have The Sportswriter enroute and its sequel, Independence Day, here to read too.
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This is a curious work. It's slight and feels at times like a rehearsal for the much longer and engaging work that is "Canada". It is engaging and does feel like a slice of life. As with Canada the perspective of a boy becoming a young man is very well handled. There's no great narrative drive just the uneven and messy dealings of people with one another. My one reservation is the dialogue - all the protagonists speak in an oddly formal manner. Everyone explains their motivations and always speak in full sentences. That said, it's an entertaining fast read - an ideal ibook!
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Joe is an only child, and up until this particular time, his life has been pretty good. His dad is not the most steady character, and although he is able to provide for his family, they don't have a lot of money and they move a lot. They arrive in Great Falls seeking opportunities related to the oil industry boom. A wildfire breaks out in the mountains nearby which affects the local economy and Joe's dad loses his job. The smoldering discontent under the surface of his parents' marriage bursts into flame. Joe has a front row seat, and Ford beautifully describes the way a teenager might attempt to come to terms with the failures and frailties of his parents.

This was a quick and easy read. It is beautifully written and desperately sad. Since I like short stories, and I love Montana, I will probably try Rock Springs next.

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Guest 15 days ago

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