As a sportswriter, Frank Bascombe makes his living studying people--men, mostly--who live entirely within themselves. This is a condition that Frank himself aspires to. At thirty-eight, he suffers from incurable dreaminess, occasional pounding of the heart, and the not-too-distant losses of a career, a son, and a marriage. In the course of the Easter week in which Ford's moving novel transpires, Bascombe will end up losing the remnants of his familiar life, though with his spirits soaring.
"[The narrator's] voice, as rendered by Mr. Ford, is so pliant and persuasive that we are insistently drawn into his story. It is a journalist's voice - observant of people and places, astringent in its attempt to eschew the sentimental--and quite clearly the voice of someone attuned to the random surprises of daily life, its discontinuity and its capacity to startle and wound. As for Mr. Ford, he writes with a great deal of compassion for his hero, but his affection is tempered by a certain tough-mindedness; and so we come to see Frank not only as he sees himself (hurt, alienated, resigned to a future of diminishing returns) but also as he must appear to others--essentially kind and decent, but also wary, passive and unwilling to embrace the real possibilities for happiness that exist around him. In fact, as the events of the one weekend framing this novel--an abortive interview with a former football player, a visit to his girlfriend's parents, the suicide of a friend--acccelerate, Frank is forced to reassess his own image of himself, and the readers of The Sportswriter, too, are made both to see and experience the gathering sense of loss and disorder in his life."
--Michikio Kakutani, New York Times