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Sorry for Your Trouble Reviews

Sorry for Your Trouble by Richard Ford

Sorry For Your Trouble

Richard Ford

3.77 out of 5

7 reviews

Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date: 14 May 2020
ISBN: 9781526620033
3 stars out of 5
Alex Peake-Tomkinson
18 Jul 2020

"Plotlines can be bewilderingly surreal"

Margaret Atwood describes these stories as ‘bright, funny, satirical’, whereas I found them too often muddy and confusing. In ‘Novostroïka’, for example, to emphasise how often potatoes are used to replace unavailable ingredients in a canning factory, the word ‘potatoes’ is repeated for almost a page — with such deadening effect that it obliterates the entire point Reva is making.


3 stars out of 5
5 Jun 2020

"Nostalgia dominates stories that capture the dullness and status anxiety of middle age"

In Sorry for Your Trouble, the emotional balance tilts towards the characters’ pasts, allowing a weightlessness to pervade the present. There’s a sense of aftermath and nostalgia to these stories that’s variously wistful or mournful. Past the primes of their lives, Ford’s heroes and heroines are for the most part resigned to their fates, occasionally self-pitying but never bitter. They are, for all their troubles, prosperous.

3 stars out of 5
Erica Wagner
27 May 2020

"The final tale here is the one that’s worth waiting for"

His work has always been distinguished by the precision of his observation and his thoughtful dissection of American life in the years following the end of the Vietnam war. His characters’ discontents – illness, divorce, estrangement – have always reflected the troubles of his native land. But in Sorry for Your Trouble, that thoughtfulness is too often absent. Characters in stories are entitled to their perceptions of the world and those they observe. But the stories in this book come across as stale because, more often than not, the people in them seem imprisoned by a judgmental authorial voice.

4 stars out of 5
14 May 2020

"Death, divorce, ageing and the whiff of disappointment of lives lived and misunderstood stalk the pages"

Ford’s idiosyncratic style conveys his characters’ bafflements, both with each other and themselves, and sentences demand careful reading and occasional rereading. Yet what rewards! The writing is full of the most marvellous gems, absolute truths that linger long after finishing the stories. “Impatience, he believed, was a form of laziness”; “Good choices don’t make very good stories’’; “No one grieved the same, he thought”. That’s always been Ford’s gift: to say such things with such stark clarity. And he does it here superbly.

4 stars out of 5
Rand Richards Cooper
12 May 2020

"pitch-perfect dialogue"

Acutely described settings, pitch-perfect dialogue, inner lives vividly evoked, complex protagonists brought toward difficult recognitions: There’s a kind of narrative, often dismissed as the “well-crafted, writing-class story,” that deals in muted epiphanies and trains its gaze inward, to pangs and misgivings. Some readers may no longer admire this kind of story. But I still love it. What is craft, after all, but a good thing well made?

5 stars out of 5
10 May 2020

"Ford is exact and poetic"

The trouble in Sorry for Your Trouble is familiar Ford trouble: losing a spouse through death, divorce or adultery, the ache of loneliness, the urge to articulate some truth that’s just out of reach. The men are befuddled, hapless, numb; the women enigmatic, alluring, treacherous; the adolescents awkward, their fragile hopes thwarted by dysfunctional or absent parents. The prose is terse, the craftsmanship, as always, fine. The reader feels cradled in the capable hands of an expert.

3 stars out of 5
1 May 2020

"(a) skilful, if offbeat, collection"

Ford’s Irish dialect is better than his French-English: ‘My father who has been an ar-kay-o-lo-zheest,’ garbles the Parisian Nelli in ‘Jimmy Green – 1992’, the only dud story in Sorry for Your Trouble. Set on the night of Bill Clinton’s election victory, it grows out of a compelling idea: that 1992 was the year American politics started to eat itself. No president since that election has commanded widespread legitimacy – Clinton and Trump were impeached, Bush was initially elected without winning the popular vote, and Obama was pursued by birtherism. But while for some years Ford has enjoyed a side job as a political columnist in European newspapers, this effort to turn the thoughts he’s expressed there into fiction is disappointing. We learn that a group of Republicans are full of ‘buffoonish fury’ as they assault a Democrat in a bar. There is another, thankfully brief hint of this sort of political writing in ‘The Run of Yourself’, when a character’s decline into mental incapacity is portended by the fact that ‘she began staying in bed, listening to Rush Limbaugh’. But these are brief sags in an otherwise skilful, if offbeat, collection.