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Independence Day
by Richard Ford

Field-Tested by Kevin Guilfoile

in Cooperstown, New York

Shortly before my Mom and Dad retired to Wisconsin, I returned home for one last week in my old Cooperstown, New York bedroom.

In all the Northeast, there might be no finer spot to sit alone with a book than in an Adirondack chair, on the back veranda of the Otesaga Hotel, looking north from the foot of Lake Otsego. But I would warn against wasting that time, as many do, on the turgid pioneer adventures of former resident James Fenimore Cooper.

I packed Richard Ford’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Independence Day, the second of Ford’s novels featuring New Jersey sportswriter turned real estate agent, Frank Bascombe. In that book, Frank and his troubled son make the pilgrimage to Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame and try to connect with one another in the Doubleday Batting Range, a Main Street tourist trap in which I spent many hours as a kid because pretty girls worked the concession stand and you could play Q*Bert for a quarter. My flirting was madly unsuccessful, and I never became really good at Q*Bert, the diagonal joystick moves being counterintuitive. Frank’s trip to the batting range also ends badly, even violently. Maybe that’s why I could relate.

Kevin Guilfoile is the author of Cast of Shadows and co-author of My First Presidentiary: A Scrapbook by George W. Bush. He can be found at his website.

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