The finest and most substantial story here is 'The Run of Yourself'. One could say is has the richness and breadth of a novel, but that would be to slight the short-story form, of which Mr. Ford has repeatedly proved himself a master ... However understated and oblique, Sorry for Your Trouble—which is what Irish people say to the bereaved at a funeral—is both a coherent work of art and a subtle and convincing portrait of contemporary American life among the moneyed middle class. None of the main characters has to worry about money, which highlights the emotional malaise that underlies their lives and their frequent and almost absent-minded couplings and uncouplings. In the background are wars, financial crises, natural vicissitudes. This is America, and Richard Ford is its chronicler. In these superbly wrought tales he catches, with exquisite precision...the irresistible melancholy that is the mark of American life.
There’s a gamble in using ambivalence as the launching pad for fiction, and a couple of these stories drift and bog down ... as much existential as it is temperamental, reflecting protagonists grappling to relinquish the sense of an overarching narrative in their lives. These are stories about the death of stories ... Ford has a gift for nimble interior monologues and a superb ear for the varieties and vagaries of human speech. His prose can strike a Hemingwayesque cadence ... At 76, Ford is of the last generation of writers to have grown up directly under the Papa-and-Scott dispensation, and it’s gratifying to hear his sentences pay homage ... Acutely described settings, pitch-perfect dialogue, inner lives vividly evoked, complex protagonists brought toward difficult recognitions: There’s a kind of narrative, often dismissed as the 'well-crafted, writing-class story,' that deals in muted epiphanies and trains its gaze inward, to pangs and misgivings. Some readers may no longer admire this kind of story. But I still love it. What is craft, after all, but a good thing well made?
... one of those hybrid affairs, but with a definite upside. It’s more like a twofer: We expect short stories, only to find a couple of novellas tucked in, which nearly steal the show ... Considering the generally dark palette of his themes, there’s a strange joy to this book. Perhaps it emanates from the nearly kinetic ruminations of his characters, who are forever observing their inner climate. And, in the process, they illuminate pieces of themselves for their own use and ours. If many of his characters seem to be sorting out their lives, Ford assigns a clarity to the process that one could only wish for in real life. There’s no muddling through the troubles that beset these folks. They may feel anguish or loss, but they do it with such precision and finesse! All of which makes for an incisive and satisfying read.