First Person

Richard Ford on meeting book lovers

The Maine writer, whose latest novel is ‘Canada,’ will be the keynote speaker at the Boston Book Festival on October 27.

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Richard Ford is best known for his Frank Bascombe novels.
Robert Jordan/UM Brand Photography Services
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Richard Ford is best known for his Frank Bascombe novels.

I am looking forward to [the festival] and hope I see a colleague or two there. That always makes me happy. Festivals and readings allow me to meet readers, and that’s what I have in common with people, mostly. They’re readers and I’m a reader, and if they’re not reading my book, then WE’RE PROBABLY READING THE SAME BOOKS. I like that. That’s what a literary festival is good for. You can look to your left and look to your right and you see somebody who likes books. That isn’t always the case UNLESS YOU’RE ON THE RED LINE.  

When I was younger, as I think the case is with most writers, you’re in [the writing] community more, and then as you get older, you are probably in that community less because you are SCRATCHING AT TIME TO DO YOUR WORK. I’ve got some pals who are writers, but when we get together, we usually talk about books that we have read or real estate or our health. We don’t talk about peculiar problems we are having with pronouns in the third person. And I don’t even do that much BECAUSE I LIVE IN MAINE. I simply don’t live where other writers are. To have been a writer as I have for 40-plus years is an experience you just don’t share with many people, for good or for bad.

I have a story collection about half written. I also would like to WRITE A MEMOIR ABOUT MY FATHER, but that’s a long-term project like Canada was. I’ve been collecting notes for [it] for the last 30 years, never quite feeling that I had the chops for it. I hope I can find the chops before I die.  — As told to Joel Brown

Interview has been edited and condensed.