Richard Ford

From Academic Kids

Richard Ford (February 16, 1944- ) is an American novelist and short story writer. His best-known works include the novels The Sportswriter and its award-winning sequel Independence Day, and the widely-anthologized short story "Rock Springs."


Early Life

Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi, the only son of a traveling salesman for a starch company. When Ford was eight years old, his father had a major heart attack, and thereafter Ford spent as much time with his grandfather, a former prizefighter and hotel owner in Arkansas, as he did with his parents in Mississippi. Fordís father died of a second heart attack in 1960.

Ford received a B. A. from Michigan State University, where he also met Kristina Hensley, his future wife; the two married in 1968 and remain married to this day. Despite a mild dyslexia, Ford developed a serious interest in literature. He has stated in interviews that his dyslexia may in fact have helped him as a reader, as it forced him to approach books at a slow and thoughtful level. Later, Ford briefly attended law school but dropped out to pursue a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, which he received in 1970.

Later Life and Works

Ford published his first novel, A Piece of My Heart, the story of two unlikely drifters whose paths cross on an island in the Mississippi River, in 1976, and followed it with The Ultimate Good Luck in 1981. Despite good notices, the books sold little, and Ford retired from fiction writing to become a writer for the New York magazine Inside Sports.

In 1982, however, the magazine folded, and when its successor, Sports Illustrated, failed to hire Ford, he turned back to fiction writing with The Sportswriter, a novel about a failed novelist turned sportswriter who undergoes a spiritual crisis following the death of his son. The novel became Fordís ďbreakout book,Ē named one of Time magazineís five best books of 1986 and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Ford followed the success immediately with the 1987 Rock Springs, a short story collection including some of his most popular stories, adding to his reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation. However, his 1990 novel Wildlife, a story of a Montana golf pro turned firefighter, met with only mixed reviews and middling sales. Ford also edited the 1990 Best American Short Stories and the 1992 Granta Book of the American Short Story.

In 1995, Fordís career reached its high point to date with the release of Independence Day, a sequel to The Sportswriter featuring the continued story of its protagonist, Frank Bascombe. Reviews were ecstatic, and the novel became the first ever to win both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Fordís recent works include the short story collections Women with Men (1997) and A Multitude of Sins (2002).

Ford currently lives on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, where his wife Kristina is the executive director of the city planning commission.


External links

Bibliography ( Ploughshares profile ( Interview ( Ford


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