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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Ultimate Good Luck

The Ultimate Good Luck by Richard Ford

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

July 8, 2004

Never has a book involving cocaine smuggling, at least three murders, and Mexican prisons been so boring or unsatisfying. I've read Ford's Frank Bascombe novels and the difference in the writing and subject matter (to use the old cliche) is night and day while there's no difference at all in the lack of passion in the characters, specifically Harry Quinn, the protagonist.

Harry doesn't care if he gets Sonny out, he only cares about getting himself and his wife Rae out of Mexico alive, which may or may not happen, we never even really find that out. Rae doesn't even care about getting her brother out, so both her and Harry are making a half-hearted attempt. This is great, complex stuff, but from a reading standpoint it comes off as cold and clinical, to the point where I never cared if Harry or Rae lived or died. Heck, if one of them died, maybe the other would have had to experience some emotion then.

I'm not saying I want a lot of melodrama, but I do want to feel SOMETHING. I hate putting down a book with a weary sigh and saying, "Yeah, so?" It means the author failed to deliver the goods, although in this case maybe Ford got what he was after, because I felt as cold and detached from everything as Harry.

In terms of the writing, this is nowhere near the caliber of "The Sportswriter" or "Independence Day". The sentences are choppy and filled with a lot of amateurish telling instead of showing and useless adverbs. The characters are all so bland and detached that I never care about them. The action is handled so poorly that in big moments, like the gunfight at the end, I didn't know what was happening. The dialogue was stiff and unbelievable. And of course the plot really never went anywhere. Based on all this, there's simply nothing for me to recommend with this book.

Do yourself a favor, if you want a book with drugs and action, then there are probably plenty of others more exciting. Or if you want decent literary fiction that's a better example of Ford's writing, check out his Bascombe novels. Those might not make you feel much at the end either, but they are written better. Good luck to you if you still try this book, you'll need it.

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