Dear Richard

July 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Dear Richard,

It’s not you, it’s me. I keep breaking up with you, and then we get back together for a little while before I remember why it was that we had to break up last time. I’m just too impatient for you; that must be the problem. You like to set out your plans right from the start, so I can’t even say that I don’t know where we’re going. It’s just that it takes you so long to get there. By the time we’ve arrived, I’ve forgotten I even wanted to go.

It took me a week to get to page 120 this time. I knew the parents had robbed a bank from the first page. I could have driven to North Dakota and held up the bank myself in less time than it took them to get there. I just feel I don’t really need to know all the ins and outs of who closed which window when, or quite such minute detail about the offering, cooking and then eating of a grilled cheese sandwich. Now I want to get to the murders, or find out the details of what happens to the teenagers when the parents are taken away. Come on! Don’t hold out on me here. Please?

It’s really too bad, Richard, because I enjoy reading interviews with you, and anything non-fiction I’ve ever seen of yours has been great. I’d love to be able to finish one of your novels. But I’ve got my own windows to close, my own sandwiches to make, and I really need you to just move a bit faster. I know that says more about me and my intellectual abilities than it does about you and your greatness as a prose stylist. I accept that.  You can certainly write with precision and poignant observation, I won’t deny it. But despite the accumulation of detail, Dell Parsons and his family still feel a bit shadowy to me. I also notice that even reviewers who love your work have more or less omitted the first third or so of the novel when summarising the plot, and I can see why. What would they say? Maybe I should start from the halfway point, give it one last try. A break-up date, if you like. I’ll give it some thought.

You’ll find other readers, I know you will. People love your work so much that the library will only lend the book for two weeks instead of the usual three, to give everyone a chance of reading it. So you can see there are plenty of people who admire you. In fact, there are two in my house–and I’m one of them. The only thing is, I can’t see it through with any of your books, and for that, I’m sorry. Maybe it’s just better all round if we say goodbye now. Who knows, perhaps we’ll meet again one day and things will work out differently. I’ll keep hoping.

Canada By Richard Ford


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