Richard Ford is driving around Memphis looking for barbecue, with his wife, Kristina, a leggy, blond PhD.
Ford just drove in from Oxford, Mississippi, where he’s teaching a writing class at Ole Missfilling in for his friend, novelist Barry Hannah, who died in 2010. [. . .] Throughout his career, hes gone to great pains to distance himself from the Southern literary tradition. He gets a headache just thinking about all those post-Faulknerians with their clichés that proliferate like so much Spanish moss.
For the past 20-odd years, Ford has been the standard-bearer for a certain kind of American literary masculinity. […] But [sic] he’s also a guy’s guy who trout fishes, rides a Harley soft-tail, and knows how to handle a shotgun on a duck hunt.
He can be ornery, short-tempered, acerbic, profanebut somehow he’s also totally loveable.
Ford drives on, doing 80 through the Mississippi darkness, south toward home. A few miles later, Kristina directs his attention to a gas station up ahead. Ford looks at the sign, glances down at the needle, and keeps on driving.
He’s a powerful presence6-foot-2 and distance-runner rangy, with blue eyes and a lean, wolfish grin.
Ford gets a kick out of confrontation. When a writer for the New York Times reviewed The Sportswriter unfavorably, Ford took one of her books out to his backyard and shot it with a .38. He then mailed it to her.
Ford drives like a man who likes to drive.
[A]fter his mother died in 1981, he decided to commit to Mississippi as his home. He and Kristina bought a big white plantation house, which they ended up selling a few years later.
Yesterday, The Economist reported that 9,000 jobs in newspapers and book publishing have been lost since 2002. Borders went bankrupt last year, just months after the Los Angeles Times laid off all its freelance book reviewers. Each week The New York Times Book Review receives nearly 1000 books to review. It selects fewer than 30.
The excerpts above were written by a man named Josh Eells. And then it all got published in a national magazine, who paid him for it.