Almanac Books: The Final Frank Bascombe novel



The Footy Almanac has given me many fine things.


A magnificent, constantly evolving library of mostly short prose; a hugely encouraging platform to share my writing; friendships; North Fitzroy Arms lunches which went well beyond sunset.


But among the great gifts is the Frank Bascombe series. First published in 1986, I’d heard of it but only read it following praise from contributors on this site. So, since 2013 I’ve read the entire series three times, including about five years ago when I was on the couch for a week following minor foot surgery.


I think about it more than is perhaps healthy. Like all worthy art it’s how it remains with me deeply for days that I love the most.


I want to go to New Jersey and visit the real places referenced in the novels and to try to imagine those invented by Richard Ford. Haddam. Sea-Clift. Toms River.


I think about the narrator and protagonist Frank Bascombe whom we met in The Sportwriter and then pursued across Independence Day, The Lay of the Land, and Let Me Be Frank With You, the terribly titled (but forgiven) collection of sparse short stories.


In the next few weeks, the final Frank Bascombe novel called Be Mine will be published. I’ve ordered my copy and imagine I’ll read it in a day or so. I’m both as excited as I’ve ever been about a novel but also already grieving because it’s the end.


Like much great art the series means many things to me. Frank is funny, astute, awful, and inspiring. Same as most of us.


Last Saturday in between listening to a couple episodes of BBC Radio 4’s most excellent Soul Music on The Carpenters and Toto I recounted to my wife Claire what I knew of Be Mine. Not just because I was a glass or two or shiraz through the evening, I’d a few tears. It was the first time I’d cried before encountering a story.


This was about my gratitude and anticipation.


Frank captured my feelings on this way back in The Sportwriter when he said, ‘We are past the end of things now, but I don’t want to leave.’


Thanks to the wise, generous folk of The Footy Almanac who prompted my life-long reading of the series.



You can read more from Mickey Randall Here



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About Mickey Randall

No, instead I get out my Volleys, each with the inescapable hole, just by the little toe. What if someone bought a pair of Volleys and they didn’t develop these holes? The absence of holes would itself make a psychological hole.


  1. Tony Taylor says

    I went to New Iberia because of James Lee Burke.

  2. Richard Ford.

  3. Thanks Tony. In NYC I thought about Holden Caulfield and Jay Gatsby while in Antibes Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were often on my mind.

    Smokie- As he’s nearly eighty I wonder if this is his final publication.

  4. E.regnans says

    yes Mickey.

    Well you’ve prompted me to flip leisurely and happily through my dog-earred copy of The Sportswriter (1986) just now – purchased from J Butler at his “Everybody Knows Books” second hand bookshop in central Ballarat a couple of years ago – after I realised I’d lost my first copy (most likely loaned out and never seen again) and had a hankering to read it again.

    Today I felt to drop a quote in here.
    Some appropriate wisdom or whimsy (or both).
    But the trouble is – there are too many to choose from (from which to choose, if we’re being strict). I’m holding a whole book of them.

    The fictional life observed by fictional Frank is a (real life) significant one for me, too.

    “there is mystery everywhere, even in a vulgar, urine-scented, suburban depot such as this. You have only to let yourself in for it. You can never know what’s coming next. Always there is the chance it will be—miraculous to say—something you want.” – Richard Ford, The Sportswriter.
    That will do nicely.

  5. Such is its hold over me that I often find myself wondering if I should read the series again only to think that’s it was just last year. And that I’ve a enthusiastic tower of texts on my bedside table, some of which I’ve already deemed as retirement reading.

    Thanks Er. Look forward to a conversation about this – and other things at the NFA soon.

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