CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{October 30, 2006}   Me, Grumpiness, Richard Ford and the Dixie Chicks

larry-_3.jpgrichard-ford.jpgdixie-chicks.jpgThis past Friday afternoon, I caught up with Pulitzer price winning novelist Richard Ford by phone in his hotel room in Denver, Colorado. He’s just started his book tour to promote his new novel “The Lay of the Land” which was released last week.

The new novel is the third book about Ford’s most popular character Frank Bascombe. You’ll be reading more about it in CityBeat in the weeks ahead.

Somehow, the subject turned to Frank being a little grumpy in the new book and we got off the subject a little bit. Here’s some of where we strayed.

Ford: I don’t think of Frank as being grumpy but, you know, sometimes people think of me as being grumpy and I don’t think I am either – but then they do.

Gross: I get accused of being grumpy constantly.

Ford: You do?

Gross: You know, I’m 52-years-old and I think it’s my right to be grumpy if I want to be.

Ford: (laughs) Well, I read your piece that you sent me on your circulatory problems. That would make me a little grumpy.

Gross: It did make me grumpy. You know, I couldn’t get around and I feel like I missed all of last winter.

Ford: Yeah, well, you were very silent about it at the time.

Gross: Sure, I know.

Ford: Are you all right now?

Gross: I’m doing all right. I have to be careful, can’t walk as fast as I used to, but I feel o.k.

Ford: Good. The piece that you wrote about it was actually quite touching and smart.

Gross: I hope it was funny in spots.

Ford: It was, but it was mostly touching and serious.

Gross: Thank you. It’s funny, when you write something like that, you never know what kind of mail you’re going to get. In the same issue, I wrote a column about the Dixie Chicks and that got more mail than the cover story. I don’t understand that, but I don’t try to figure readers out.

Ford: Are you an enthusiast of the Dixie Chicks?

Gross: I love the Dixie Chicks.

Ford: Me too.

Gross: We have this country station here, B105, and they won’t play them, they don’t like to return my calls; don’t want to talk to me.

Ford: What? That’s just bullshit.

Gross: I don’t understand it.

Ford: That’s bullshit. It’s just republican bullshit.

And on that note, we both started getting steamed about country radio not playing new Dixie Chicks music and decided to get back to the subject at hand, namely, “The Lay of the Land.”

Larry Gross


Donna says:

Richard Ford is one of my favorite writers. I look forward to reading more about his new novel.

Karen says:

Larry Gross grumpy? I can hardly believe it 🙂

Billy says:

This is funny. Shit, you’re both grumps!

Laura says:

I also like the Dixie Chicks and they can’t catch a break from the media. They have a movie coming out about their recent tour and the networks won’t air advertising for it. That also is bullshit.

Marty says:

Wow! You know Richard Ford? I loved “Independence Day,” probably my favorite book of his. Thanks for the link to Amazon – I’ll order the new one.

Jackie says:

Of course Larry is a big old grump, but we love him anyway.

Robert says:

I’ve read the other two of Ford’s “Frank” books and I’ll get the third. Do you know if he’s coming here to Cincinnati on his book tour? I’ve always wanted to meet the man. I really enjoy his writing and I’m looking forward to seeing an interview with him.

Sarah says:

Ford is always tooooooo wordy for my taste.

Jim Stanton says:

I’m glad to see that you and Ford are still communicating! I remember that piece you wrote when you visited them in Maine. He and his wife do seem like “real people.” I haven’t read any of this work. Maybe I should.

Matt says:

I don’t know Ford’s work but I like his attitude. It is bullshit that radio stations don’t play the chicks. Maybe that bullshit will start to go away after the election.

Brian says:

I remember talking to you one day about Ford, when we were outside the office smoking cigarettes a couple of years ago. He is wordy at times but knows how to construct solid and believable characters that way, evidence I s’pose of his still being a “real” person.

I’m currently reading his excellent short story collection “Multitude Of Sins”; anyone interested in checking out his style w/o having to wade through an entire novel could pick that up, or look for a recent NewYorker story of his at this link:

hard as nails says:

Hey Brian,

“Multitude of Sins” is pretty good but his short story collection “Rock Springs,” is like fine wine. The stories just get better with age.

Shelly says:

Yes, indeed. “Rock Springs is my all time favorite Ford book.

Matthew says:

Ford is a heavy hitter when it comes to writers. I’m surprised you got an interview with him. Good work.

Debbie says:

Hey Larry,

Let us know if Richard is stopping here on his book tour.

Larry Gross says:

Mr. Ford isn’t sure why, but no, at this point there will be no stops in Cincinnati – in fact no where in Ohio.

C.A. MacConnell says:

I don’t know anything about the Dixie Chicks, but I remember the Cover Story that was (and still is) an inspiration to me in many ways, both in the writing and in the strength involved in putting personal subject matter, such as illnesses, out there. Right on.

Andrew says:

If The Lay of the Land is anything like Independence day, I’m going to be in for a real treat. Ford should be thanking you for putting up that Amazon link.

Charlie says:

I know that “The Lay of the Land” is the third book about Frank Bascombe. The first, “The Sportswriter” is one of my all time favorite novels. The second, “Independance Day” not so much. I’ll probably get “Land” because I’m curious. Do you plan on writing a review of it?

Chris says:


I’ve been reading some reviews and most have been very good.

Babble On says:

Larry and Richard,

I don’t think I would want to get on the bad side of you two grumps!

Shari says:

I tryed to get thru one of his books one time but couldn’t. Too many words.

Karen @ the hood says:

I don’t know anything about Richard Ford but I just want to say that Larry rocks. This cover story on his foot was very, very brave. I don’t know if I could write about myself like that. And he’s my hero because he gives me a chance to write. He’s really giving and supports what I’m trying to say. And I get to be in the company of CA who I wish I could be more like.

I hope this blog don’t go nowhere. It sure keeps me company sometimes.

Adam says:

I HATE B105 and hate country music in general, but the Dixie Chicks are pretty cool. That’s probably why they don’t play them.

numb says:

larry and richard. two non-talents.

Kevin says:

Don’t you think it is time for good old numb to go fuck himself?

Marilyn says:

I’ve not read any of Ford’s work, but I think I will. There’s some good recommendations here.

I was raised with country music. I used to really love some classic country, but no so much any more… After 9/11, whenever I’d accidentally hear any country music it would be the crap like “these colors don’t run” and “god bless the usa”. Ugh, it is even worse than it used to be.

Ever listen to the “Cuttin’ the Grass” show which begins at 8 AM Saturday on WAIF? I confess I haven’t lately either, but Lee Elliott and Moonbeam are not likely to play that patriotic clap-crap.
And Katie Lauer of CityBeat fame isn’t either. Her show (with Wayne?) is Sunday eve on WNKU.
Lee Greenwood made me wanna puke long before 9/11.

After all these comments, I was hoping LOL Girl would already have claimed to be the subject of Richard Ford’s new novel. I guess she didn’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t yet read the book.

Heather says:

LOL Girl only participates in discussions that are about her.

Phil says:

I’m sure Larry already knows that Ford has been giving readings for the past year or so from his now completed work. Based on the readings, it’s a book that doesn’t disappoint. I’ll be heading over to Joseph Beth this week to pick it up.

Mark T. says:

My copy of the Lay of the Land arrived yesterday and I’m about 200 pages into it. Its hard to put down.

Dancing Joker says:

Yes, yes, yes, “Rock Springs” is a must read Richard Ford short story book. I read it about once a year or so 🙂

David says:

When is the interview going to be in City Beat?

Larry Gross says:

I don’t have an exact date, but it will be something this month.

Debbie says:

Man, Larry why don’t you answer questions. Is Ford stopping here on his book tour?

Matthew says:

I just finished Ford’s book up. It’s excellent.

Ted says:

Based on some of the words you wrote here, I purchased Ford’s new book and I have to tell you it is excellent. Now, I have a lot of catch up work to do, need to read the other two books about Frank.


jackula says:

i picked it up at border’s in northgate. it’s an outstanding read 🙂

Hallie says:

Joey Branding – It’s the new punk rock that everyone is doing to be different. Quick, whr&2e#8e17;s my old OpIvy t-shirt? I wanna wear it to the next Rancid concert to show people I know things.

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