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Wildlife Paperback – January 26, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reissue edition (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802144594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802144591
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in Montana, this precisely structured novel owes much to the style and subjects of Ford's praised short-story collection, Rock Springs . For a few days during the fall of 1960, 16-year-old Joe confronts his parents' frailties when his father loses his job and takes off to fight forest fires near the Canadian border while his mother begins an affair with an older man. Looking back on a not-so-simple love triangle from the perspective of adulthood, yet recalling his emotions as a sensitive, confused teenager, Joe's first-person narrative beautifully reveals the melancholy and pain of the spectacle he observed and was compelled to involve himself in--grown-ups who behave like children, children who are forced to act like adults--and displays Ford's remarkable ability to capture distinctive voices. While the complex relationships within families are a common theme in his work--along with the self-destructiveness of those whose lives and loves have gone bad, and the pressing need to live without illusions--his short, bittersweet fourth novel details how family strife is "nature's way," and again proves Ford to be a gifted chronicler of the down-and-out.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Narrated by son Joe, a teenager at the time of the events, this well-written tale takes place in 1960 Montana. Wealthy businessman Warren Miller plays golf with teaching pro Jerry Brinson at a private Great Falls country club. When Jerry loses his job at the club, Miller starts taking swimming lessons from Jerry's wife, Jeanette, at the YWCA. Jerry and Jeanette, a handsome, athletic couple in their late 30s, are both headed for midlife troubles. Seeking to prove his manhood, Jerry joins a firefighting crew battling a blaze in the nearby mountains. Left behind, Jeanette falls into bed with an eager Warren Miller. By the author of A Piece of My Heart (LJ 12/1/76), The Sportswriter , and Rock Springs, this excellent short novel, while gently and reflectively told, is ultimately a devastating account of one family's destruction. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/90.
- James B . Hemesath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Those are easily two of the best books I've ever read.
C. Fletcher
Ford takes his time in developing this story without ever being dull, and handles the ambiguities and ambivalence present in so many situations very well.
algo41
It was not what I expected, but I fought my fought my thru it and did not really like it.
Sbell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. Fletcher on April 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've been a devoted fan of Richard Ford's writing since I read his incredible Frank Bascombe novels, THE SPORTSWRITER and INDEPENDENCE DAY. Those are easily two of the best books I've ever read.

Ford is so skilled at creating damaged yet optimistic characters and making them interact in the world around them, that is just makes you want to cry with compassion and love for all of the ways that we as humans are screwed up, and yet able to mount another dream after the went before has turned into ashes.

WILDLIFE is pure Richard Ford, though on a smaller scale than the Bascombe novels. In this novel, Ford writes from the perspective of a young boy growing up in rural 1950's Montana with amid his parents' troubled marriage.

Ford is often compared to Hemingway, and the similarities are certainly visible in this novel. Ford's simple, understated, yet emotion-packed style is maybe at its most Hemingwayesque in this novel, but it's still uniquely Ford. The young boy finding the means around him to be a man is also similar to Hemingway's Nick Adams, but again, but, again, it never feels that Ford is just imitating Hemingway here.

Richard Ford is his own man, and his own writer, and there's something very appealing about Ford's writing, that shines through in this novel, and makes you want to celebrate the beauty of life in all its painful twists and turns.
If you've never read Richard Ford before, you're missing out on a great modern American writer.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Antonelli on November 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is gripping from the first to the last word and I couldn't put it down. The story moves quickly and the feeling of impending disaster seems to build up until the climax toward the end. The characters feel intensely about life but don't seem to understand each other well. I particularly think of the scene where the boy is in the car watching his dad set fire to a house. I would rate this along with his short stories, Women with Men, and The Ultimate Good Luck as the best Ford has to offer. I'm not sure why The Sportswriter and Independence Day have received so much attention, as these books tend to be too long and pointless, although I realize that this was the intent, ie to construct an existential landscape of a man in mid-life searching for meaning. But I liked Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly more than Wild Strawberries, so there you go. More emotion, more gripping, yet similar underlying message.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tony Thomas on April 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ford told me that this book, really a novella more than a novel, was his last attempt to get out of his system what he began in the Montana stories in his collection Rock Springs, although I would suggest that the Montana-based story in Women without Men which had not appeared then continues that. What is significant to me about these stories is not the Western setting which is nice and full and accurate, or the feelings for the times, but Ford's approach to the question of the myth of parenthood. In this book and the stories our characters are faced with the patriarchal myth of the father and the mother as people who can play such a superior role and guide the family safely through the maze of life in capitalism, always being someone to look up to by the child. Ford brings about explosions, sometimes big explosions--in Rock Springs dad kills a guy in one story and in another story the Dad and the son come and find good old mom and an Airman in the sack--sometimes small and this myth is blown away. The child discovers that the parent is a conflicted person with all the problems and humanity that we know, open to disaster, tragedy, and just plain bad luck. Whether from the parent's point of view, or the child's what we see is this myth receding and the acceptance of real humanity by both the child and the parent. Would that so many of this could have learned all this as wisely in life as Ford tells this in his fiction!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on March 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Great Falls, Montana, is surrounded by numerous forest fires. Joe's father (Joe is the boy narrator of the story) has lost his job as a golf pro and has gone off to fight the fires. While he's away, Joe's mother falls in love with another man. This is the most Hemingway-ish of Ford's books, and the writing is crisp and clear. But there is also a certain coldness and distance from emotions displayed in the prose that's hard to understand. Ford is one of my favorite writers on the contemporary scene, so I like just about everything he's written so far; this book is good but not as good as "The Sportswriter" or "Independence Day."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Billy Lombardo on April 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
As it is with all first person narratives (it seems to me) with adolescent characters, we readers wish the young characters of these novels could be protected from the abuses and tragedies which inevitably befall them. And it seems as well, in many cases at least, that the young characters could have been protected from the abuses and tragedies, were it not for the flawed and imperfect grownups that seem always to surround them.

Richard Ford's Wildlife is no exception. Everywhere the reader turns, he turns to find proof of another screwed up adult: a mother who flaunts her infidelities in the face of her son, the narrator; a father whose filter for inappropriate behavior atrophies as the novel moves along. Through it all, Ford presents his characters as real, complex, and human, and deserving of our compassion, even as we empathize with the child who suffers in their presence.
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