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Sorry For Your Trouble by Richard Ford

Richard Ford’s short stories are not about setting off fireworks but more the slow immersion into the ordinary, and the gradual realisation the reader is engaging in something quite extraordinary through the protagonists’ personal interactions and their responses to their surroundings.

This is real life observed and meticulously reflected upon in a way which creates a resonance with the reader.

Ford does this through uncomplicated prose, sparse description, a sense of awkward silence in dialogue, and the position he places the reader in as an observer in the understated and yet significant dramas. It is a case of not so much existing within the character, nor as a voyeur observing the goings on from a safe distance, but somehow being intimately attached to the protagonists, having to move where they move, see what they see and feel what they feel, through a steady accumulation of their experiences. 

Ford’s strength is his deep understanding of human nature and his meticulous winkling out of the intricacies of who we are, and that there are commonalities we can all relate to, no matter what our background or location.

Yet there is also much he allows the reader to fill in for themselves. It is what, despite the apparently matter of fact accounts, develops a great deal of poignancy in these stories of looking back of where things went wrong or trying to come to terms with life and how to move on.

Sorry for Your Trouble was courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing.