In “Nothing to declare”, Richard Ford stirs the murky water where “homo americanus” acclimates

Happiness cracks noiselessly in “Nothing to Declare”, the finely-tuned short stories of American author Richard Ford.

Nothing to report? Nothing, if not the life which goes by, the death of a spouse or of a father and the peaceful routine which reinstalls itself over the breakup. In a low voice, to the measured cadence of an inventory – title of a previous novel -, Richard Ford deploys his immense talent to survey the expanse of ordinary existences, of ordinary people.

Essentially men, whom we discover in the middle of a rumination, a memory or a sentence that suddenly brings them back to an old love, a forgotten situation that emerges for an instant. Men settled in their profession, failed lawyer or writer, teachers, married, widowed or divorced the question of happiness arises almost incidentally, are apprehended in half-words, at a distance from the great emotions that witticisms or conversations without consequences hide without difficulty. They live their life “quite fully”, enjoy a beautiful sunset on the beach or a little constrained invitations that they will know how to let slip.

Richard Ford excels at this exercise. Pulitzer and Pen / Faulkner Prize for his trilogy “A weekend in Michigan”, “Independence” and “The state of the art”, before being crowned with the Princess of Asturias Prize for all his work, he shows with this new collection that he is far from having exhausted his ground.



On these ten perfectly balanced, very elegant short stories, a shadow passes over the joy – often feigned – and with it, the suspicion, the crack in the cement of the couple, the family, the friendship.

This friend of Raymond Carver, who lived in Montana, kept his eye of a hunter and fisherman on the lookout to interpret, without failing, the smallest detail, to capture a face that changes when thought wanders. By small touches, his masterful news, inevitably progress towards an end without denouement, as if nothing could alter an existence built on a voluntary positivism. Meanwhile, the meeting with a stranger, the unexpected entry of a former lover, a song related to a childhood episode, have brought back the decisions and questions left in suspense, the mysteries never clarified, the wounds kept to oneself.

Through
Richard Ford

News translated by Josée Kamoun and edited by Olive Tree

384p. – € 22.50

Note from L’Echo:




On these ten perfectly balanced, very elegant short stories, a shadow passes over the joy – often feigned – and with it, the suspicion, the crack in the cement of the couple, the family, the friendship. Have we been really understood? Was the reciprocity real or did we just play our part? Dying, in the middle of a sentence that his companion, back turned, hears absent-mindedly and mentally completes, out of habit or weariness, does not the husband die doubly alone? Death on these words: – “I have a project”. The news is called “Happy”!

In that entitled “In transit”, a somewhat awkward adolescent, fatherless, who finally existed, he believed, for a single friend, keep the scarring of a nasty word. Can he still believe in the good times past or must he reevaluate everything, erase everything? Called to the bedside of her first fiancé, abandoned in Canada, will the pretty sixty-year-old be able to bring what is expected of her or at least to revive the balls with the dexterity which she shows at the bar of this hotel with the false gaiety? And underneath, all this news, this question: what place do we hold in the lives of others?



He never corneres or traps his characters, he stirs up the murky water to which “homo americanus” acclimates, in the peace of mind of a success or a renunciation that has put him to death. deviation from unforeseen events.

Richard Ford takes a look full of amenity on the way in which beings manage with themselves, lie to each other, out of laziness or fear, to have one day to identify his true desire. He never corneres or traps his characters, he stirs up the murky water where it is acclimatized “Homo americanus”, in the peace of mind of a success or a renunciation that has set him aside from the unforeseen. Of European origin, they lost this faculty of breaking up in order to reinvent themselves that their Irish ancestors had. “In short, they had made a life that sheltered them. What else to do? ”

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In “Nothing to declare”, Richard Ford stirs the murky water where “homo americanus” acclimates

Hank Gilbert