It is fall, 2000 and Frank Bascombe has arrived at a state of
optimistic pragmatism that he calls the Permanent Period of life.
Epic mistakes have already been made, dreams downsized, and Frank
reflects that now at least there are fewer opportunities left in
life to get things wrong. But the tranquillity he anticipated is
not to be. In fact, as Thanksgiving dinner with his children and
first wife nears, the Permanent Period proves as full of
possibility as life had ever been. In his third Frank Bascombe
novel, Richard Ford contemplates the human character with wry
precision. Graceful, expansive, filled with pathos but irresistibly
funny, "The Lay of the Land" is a modern American masterpiece.
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