And I have some more explaining to do.
On the evening of June 27, 1996, I strolled a short distance away from the convalescent facility in Nashville’s Green Hills where my wife and I had come to visit her grandmother. The old Davis-Kidd bookstore was hosting one of my favorite writers, who’d recently published the second of his Frank Bascombe novels.
He read, we spoke, I told him how much I admired his work and how inspired I’d been by a particular passage in The Sportswriter, his first Bascombe book. I was then, I thought, permanently done with academia. The passage in question:
In my view all teachers should be required to stop teaching at age thirty-two and not allowed to resume until they’re sixty-five, so that they can live their lives, not teach them away—live lives full of ambiguity and transience and regret and wonder, be asked to explain nothing in public until very near the end when they can’t do anything else. Explaining is where we all get into trouble. . .
And that’s how I acquired this now-ironic inscription:
Davis-Kidd is gone but Richard Ford will return next month, to Parnassus Books – on the other side of Hillsboro Road – with his latest Bascombe saga Let Me Be Frank. Ford and Bascombe understand about life’s funny contingencies and unpredictable twists. I’m sure he’ll sign appropriately again.
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