Richard Ford writes the kind of sharp, lasting literary fiction that defines “contemporary classic.” (And, sure, the Pulitzer doesn’t hurt.) He’s spent nearly 30 years chronicling the life of the Frank Bascombe. Let Me Be Frank with You, out this month, is the fourth novel to feature the East Coast divorced dad who’s made the transition from sportwriter to real-estate agent to retiree. Fans of this fictional chronology may enjoy seeing how some other heavy hitters have carried characters through the decades. In 1960, John Updike introduced us to Harry Angstrom in Rabbit, Run.
Two decades later, Philip Roth’s Nathan Zuckerman appeared in The Ghost Writer. In these literary series, all three authors follow their main characters through major milestones and, perhaps even more impressive, moments of quiet contemplation.
(I’m certainly not the first to cite these three as recommended reading. In 2006, these authors all made the cut for “Best American Fiction from the Last 25 Years” as selected by Booklist’s editors, columnists, and reviewers.)