On Sunday, acclaimed novelist and short story writer Richard Ford will be my guest for the next virtual installment of Writing Matters, held in conjunction with the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association. 

Our webinar format began as a stop-gap compromise for the inability to do live in-person events. In fact, Ford was to have been our first in-person Writing Matters program last summer. But this new format has become satisfying in unexpected ways. It brings together a virtual world-wide audience, as well as authors from anywhere. We’ve had readers from as far away as Spain, South Africa and New Zealand. And, our last author, Rachel Joyce, joined us from her home in England. I’m planning talks with writers from Ireland and Scotland.

In my discussion with Ford, we will be highlighting his latest story collection Sorry for Your Trouble as well as having a conversation about his long and varied writing career.

Sorry for Your Trouble is comprised of nine self-contained stories dealing with late middle age angst over marriage, divorce, sudden death, past relationships and natural disaster. Beautifully written with uncommon grace and precision, Ford produces a complete character in a snapshot of an incident.

Ford’s novels include the 1996 Pulitzer Prize and Pen-Faulkner Award-winner Independence Day, which, with The Sportwriter, The Lay of The Land, and Let Me Be Frank with You, comprise a quartet of novels encompassing the 30-year arc in the life of Frank Bascombe, a New Jersey sportswriter turned Realtor. For a brief time, Ford was a sportswriter for the short-lived “Inside Sports” magazine.

Ford’s Canada, published in 2013, won both the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence and The Prix Femina, France’s award for foreign novels. And last year, the author was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. 

He’s published numerous short story collections, a memoir of his parents, and his novel, Wildlife, was turned into a film.

While earning his MA from the University of California-Irvine, one of his instructors was novelist E.L. Doctorow. Ford, in turn, has been a professor at Bowdoin College, the University of Mississippi, Columbia University and Trinity College Dublin. He has formed long friendships with writers including Raymond Carver, Walker Percy, Tobias Wolff and Jim Harrison.

Join Bill Young and Richard Ford virtually on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2 p.m. The event is free. Register:  Nineteenthcentury.org. “Sorry for Your Trouble.” Other Richard Ford books are available at The Book Table, booktable.net, 1045 Lake St., Oak Park.

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