‘BETWEEN THEM’ by Richard Ford

Ford often ascribes his slowness of reading to dyslexia, but I don’t believe him; there must be 48 hours in his day to our 24. He also claims to be a slow writer, and likewise his books should be read slowly. To which I add, Richard Ford books must be held, savoured, and not listened to as audiobooks, especially those read by trained readers prone to flit over what the author meant but did not say. (Luckily there are enough podcasts of Ford reading his stories to learn how to do it right.)

On first reading, however, this memoir lacks facts and anecdotes that might help us build a picture of Parker and Edna Ford, if not of Richard. Ford even tells us details are not necessary, even distracting from the reason he wrote the book, alluding to incidents which may have satisfied more conventional curiosity. Instead, the slim book is a series of misty, inconclusive guessing, on my part, of Ford’s intentions, his meanings, his between-the-words; and on his part, about his parents’ inner (?) lives, by a child who came late and to whom not everything, or much, was explained. Most of all it is a 70-year-old man’s effort to try to record his parents who passed too early.

Ford says this is about lives that did not have great consequences. Although a different author could have made much of either side of the family, especially his mother’s, Ford rambles, he repeats, and, as he says so often, continues to miss them, whilst I was left puzzled and unsatisfied about a memoir that wasn’t.

So I must start my Round Two, a new Ford fan learning more deeply how to read Richard Ford.

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