First edition. Ford’s note on the half-title explains the origin of the book and some of his key artistic choices. “Began this book Easter Day, 1982, in Princeton, 4 ½ months after Mother died; some relentless grief needing ‘channeling’ – hence Ralph B. death & what to say about that. Grief being grief, whatever the source. It said ‘Write a book about somebody in 70s happy.’ Overcoming grief became that: happiness of a kind.” He explains who the character of Frank’s wife came to be known as just “X.” He used “X” in the typewritten manuscript because he “couldn’t settle on a name.” When he was finished his wife told him “You have to find a name. You can’t just have ‘X.’ But I couldn’t find one that seemed persuasive (to me) in Frank’s voice. So I ‘decided’ that Frank couldn’t any longer utter her name due to divorce, lost love, sadness. It’s typical novelist ‘logic’: make your writing problem become part of the story.” On his choice of largely present-tense verbs he quotes Wittgenstein: “He who lives in the present lives in eternity.” He takes great pleasure in recalling the dismissive comments of friends and acquaintances: “‘If this book doesn’t work, Ford, you’re toast.’” … “‘You can’t write this book Ford. Put it in a drawer and lock it. Never take it out.’ Lish, ’82. (wrong again).”
FORD, Richard (b. 1944). The Sportswriter. New York: Vintage, 1986. 8°. Illustrated wrappers.