Richard Ford: Leaving for Kenosha

1 07 2008

In my never-ending quest to catch up on my backlog of New Yorker magazines, I’m finding that the fiction is standing out. Today on my flight I read a Richard Ford story: Leaving For Kenosha. I’ve tried to read Richard Ford in the past with mixed results. It’s surprised me because I like a number of his contemporaries and friends with similar tastes have liked him. This story, however, was great.

It’s the story of a father and his young daughter, strained by a divorce he figures is somehow his fault. He drives his daughter to the dentist and then to visit a school friend who is moving from New Orleans to Wisconsin because her father has been transferred. At first I wondered if the backdrop of New Orleans was slightly forced, but then I realized it fits in well with the main character’s life. What was once there is gone and the rebuilding is slow and confusing. His marriage, his relationship with his daughter, where he wanted to be at this point in his life all seem to be beyond his control.

The opening line hit me and it just kept on going for me.  Despite upheaval, life goes on. 

It was the anniversary of the disaster.  Walter Hobbes was on his way uptown to pick up his daughter, Louise, at Trinity.  She had the dentist at four.

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