New York Times bestselling author, Richard Ford, was a keynote speaker at the 2014 North Carolina Literary Festival. The free, weekend long event was hosted at North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus in the distinguished James B. Hunt Jr. Library, the recent winner of the prestigious Stanford prize for Innovation in Research Libraries. Ford is a thin man of 70, with receding hair turning white and he has cool, blue-grey eyes that hold and command your attention with tenderness. Laid back, he exudes a sense of calm and warmly invites you to listen in and be a part of his discussion on the writing life. In the keynote lecture, Ford spoke of his upbringing in Mississippi (and why so many writers come from that state) his struggle with dyslexia and writing about unhappy families. He also wore pink socks.
To date, Ford has written six novels and four collections of short stories. Independence Day was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Prize, the first time the same novel had ever received both. His most recent novel, Canada, is a coming of age tale of fifteen year old, Del Parsons, whose family life is upended by a single and drastic decision his parents make. It begins with, “First, I’ll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.” Who could ignore an opening line like that? This is Ford’s seventh novel and one after a five year hiatus. Fans are welcoming his return and critics are praising his latest work.
(*Note: A review of Canada will be posted at a later time.)