Richard Ford: it's difficult to say exactly where the writer's life ends and his work begins

ISB an 5 me ' symphonic sweep of Independence Day. his prize-

Writer of INDEPENDENCE DAY, Richard winning sequel to The Sports“'rilc’r. both of which are - . . . recognised as being among the few great American I Ford '5 baCk W'th a Conecuon on novels of our bewildered time.

Women With Men. Words: Damien Love The stories making up Women . . . deal largely i with vaguely unsatisfactory people. and. the author says. ‘People ask: “My God. what’s going on in your life that you would write about such heartlessness‘.”' But I can propose that any human relationship might be any number of ways. and just because I blunder into one doesn’t mean that my own life must somehow reflect that state or despair or whatever.

‘I liken it to reading: if you read Dostoyevsky‘s The Gambler and are intensely moved by his terrible obsession. does that mean that you are subject to those

His latest work. the collection lrl’omen With Men - titular nod to Hemingway a coincidence marks a return for Ford to the short story form. It follows the

lt's just after seven on an August Montana morning. and Richard Ford has newly emerged from the shower. The previous evening. the Pulitzer Prize. PEN/Faulkner Award winning author had ‘just slumped‘ into bed without bothering to shower. after working late in his yard cutting the grass.

‘Because I‘m out a lot of the time. I pay someone to do it.‘ he reveals. 'But whenever I cotne back. they think to themselves: “Well. you're back in town now. you can i just as well do it”. They don't tell me that. they just

don‘t show tip. So I had to get out last night. It‘s not a very interesting life. But that‘s okay: I don‘t want a very interesting life.‘

lt‘s a rather. well. l‘ordian scene: a man alone in the late summer twilight. pushing the mower through the grass he’s almost let get ottt of hand. but is now putting to rights.

In the story. the man would have an old fashioned mower. just like Richard Ford does. Chances are. he would vaguely hear a distant htnn of traffic. and have his attention caught by a glimpse of another life framed in a far-off. glowing window. Then. from the depths of his empty house. a phone would gasp shrilly to life and cut menacineg through the night to w here he stands. making no move to answer it.

In fact. for many. it's difficult to say exactly where

' Richard Ford ends and his work begins. People get Women With Men by Richard Ford is published by ; confused between the author and the characters he Harvill at £14.99. Ford is at Waterstone's. George creates. Street. Edinburgh, Tue 9 Sep. See book events.

’People ask: "My God, what's going on in your life that you would write about such heartlessness?” ' Richard l-ord

same tumults'.’ No.’

A funny thing happened to Richard Ford last year. A film called Independence Day was released and his book of that title started flying out of American bookstores like a fleet of UFOs.

The really funny thing is that although many people bought it thinking it was the novelisation of the movie. nobody then brought the book back. I suggested he might consider calling his next work Hui/nun I’lt'e. ‘It's a good idea. isn‘t it.‘ he says. ‘Maybe that's what I‘ll do. I‘ll write a book called Alien. have it be about a young Scottish boy who comes to the American West. Maybe that‘s my future. cribbing off of other people‘s titles . . .’

Richard Ford is often referred to as the Clint liastwood of American literature. It is. he acknowledges. better than being the Ernest Borgnine.

82 THE LIST 3‘) Aug -ll Sop l997

The write stuff

Friend, confidant and former road manager of The Clash, Johnny Green. He reveals his credentials.

NAM E: Johnny Green. AGE: 48.

PREVIOUS JOBS: I'm one of those who's had hundreds of jobs. I worked for the Forestry Commission in Kinloch Rannoch in 1970, but after The Clash, I taught for a bit and then I became an advisor in sex and drugs education. I’ve also made Smarties in York - I never eat them now.

ROUTE TO BECOMING A WRITER: I've written papers for my job in education. I wanted to write subjectively, not objectively, from within and from my own perception. I‘m writing this book, not as a one-off or purely because of being involved with The Clash, but because I want to write.

DAILY ROUTINE: I'm retired now and I look after Polly, who’s four - I'm kind of a house man but within that I write first thing in the morning. I work when she's at play school and then again at night.

INFLUENCES: Jack Kerouac and Jack London.

FEARS: The biggest I've got is locked-in syndrome, where you can't move anything but your mind is perfectly healthy and you can't communicate properly. I've had that since I was a kid but I've got no reason for it.

AM BITIONS: It makes me sound like Miss World, but I want to travel. There are things I want to write about, burning issues that I’m working on and want to explore to do with the whole hypocrisy of how people look at what they would call drugs and particularly how that relates to boozing. It follows on from my own life and working with young people.

INCOME: I get a pension of £440 a month. a disability allowance of £60 a week. For the book, I got three grand up front - but come back in a year once we’ve sold some copies. (Brian Donaldson)

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I A Riot Of Our Own: Night And Day With The Clash is published by Indigo at £8. 99.