Be Mine by Richard Ford: A review
Once again, Frank is taking a road trip with his son Paul who is now 47 and suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease). Frank and Paul refer to it as Al's, like some neighborhood bar. Frank is in his 70s and dealing with all the problems that come with an aging body, while also trying to serve as caretaker to his son.
So, how exactly is Frank accomplishing that? Well, his latest idea is to hit the road with Paul and take him to Mount Rushmore on a Valentine's Day trip. Paul has been in an experimental protocol for treating ALS at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Frank collects him and they head west.
The topics of conversation between the two men while traveling range from observations about the midwestern landscape they are traversing to matters of life and death itself. Frank's health has been problematic as well. He's recovered from prostate cancer and now he just wants to be happy "before the gray curtain comes down."
There's a certain desperation to Frank's personality that has been less noticeable (at least to me) in the previous four books in this series. As his body grows older, weaker, and more uncomfortable to live in, he senses that time is running out for him as well as for his son. It's an awareness that many of us, especially those of us of a certain age, can easily relate to. I think Richard Ford, who was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1944, may perceive that awareness quite personally, too, and perhaps that is why he is able to write about it so feelingly.
Previous reviews in this series: