From American master Richard Ford, a memoir: his first work of nonfiction, a stirring narrative of memory and parental love
How is it that we come to consider our parents as people with rich and intense lives that include but also exclude us? Richard Ford’s parents—Edna, a feisty, pretty Catholic-school girl with a difficult past; and Parker, a sweet-natured, soft-spoken traveling salesman—were rural Arkansans born at the turn of the twentieth century. Married in 1928, they lived “alone together” on the road, traveling throughout the South. Eventually they had one child, born late, in 1944.
For Ford, the questions of what his parents dreamed of, how they loved each other and loved him become a striking portrait of American life in the mid-century. Between Them is his vivid image of where his life began and where his parents’ lives found their greatest satisfaction.
Bringing his celebrated candor, wit, and intelligence to this most intimate and mysterious of landscapes—our parents’ lives—the award-winning storyteller and creator of the iconic Frank Bascombe delivers an unforgettable exploration of memory, intimacy, and love.
Ford vividly and gracefully preserves his memories of parents, his life "between them," and the small Southern towns that provided the limits and the possibilities of their lives. His parents traveling salesman father Parker, and housewife mother Edna were married in 1928; and though they wanted a child, they didn't need one to be "fully formed," according to Ford, who was born in Jackson, Miss., in 1944. One section of the book is devoted to Ford's father, Parker; Ford completed it in 2015, nearly 55 years after Parker's death. Ford wrote the section about his mother, Edna, shortly after her death in 1981. When his father took a job selling laundry starch for the Faultless Company, he traveled through much of the South, and he and Edna lived on the road, in hotels in Memphis; New Orleans; and Pensacola, Fla.. Before Ford started school, he often accompanied them, but as he grew older, he became increasingly aware of his father's absences, determining that "permanence was something you fashioned." Following Parker's death from a heart attack when Ford was 16, Edna took a series of jobs and became brisk and businesslike. Every page of this little remembrance teems with Ford's luxuriant prose, his moving and tender longing for his parents, and his affecting and intimate portrait of two people simply living life as best they can as their world changes around them.