I picked it up last summer on a whim, and it took me until now to really dig in. I wish now I'd done so sooner. Ford's sensibilities remind me a lot of Raymond Carver -- one of my all-time favorites -- but he's a shade more ponderous. Like Carver, he has what I'd call a terrible knack for the human condition. Consider the following passage:
Theirs was practiced, undramatic lovemaking, a set of protocols and assumptions lovingly followed like a liturgy which points to but really has little connection with the mysteries and chaos that had once made it a breathless necessity.It's a devastating line which becomes more so every time I read it. Then a few pages later he drops this:
Life didn't veer -- you discovered it had veered, later. Now.Ford, in my limited reading, seems to be one of those rare writers who can address the complexities of human relationships without veering into either platitudes or hard-boiled fatalism. Not only that, but The Womanizer bears an intriguing -- since I didn't know Ford's name when I wrote it -- similarity to my own Last Exit Before Toll.
I suppose that tales of people who feel suffocated by routine are fairly universal, but I found myself contemplating Ford's words through the prism of what I had said, and it was vaguely uncomfortable. I'm not putting myself on his level -- not at all -- but part of me can't help but ask where I stand on that scale. I'd love to hear from anyone who's read both, for better or worse.
Regardless, Ford is a find. If the rest of his work is half as good as this one story then it's certainly worth your time. I'll read more and let you know for sure.