The Gap In Between

A picture of Rock Springs, WY

The more I think about “Rock Springs,” the more I think about the gaps in between the story. Not just the physical spaces where the ink has not been pressed onto the page, but, also, the ways in which Ford so poetically and mesmerizingly leaves the reader in a gap between what the character knows and what the reader knows. Perhaps, this is the beauty of writing in first person. Or, perhaps, more encompassing, it is the beauty of Ford’s work and his ability to craft something that the reader can tangibly detect as desperation. The gaps, in their own way, are a sort of wretchedness that the characters grab onto whole heartedly. They are a way in which not only does Ford move the story physically, but a way in which it also moves the reader internally.

Every gap leads to not only a new progression of the overall narrative, but also to a small niche of Earl’s own personal struggle and experience. It is almost as though the spaces on the page provide a way in which the reader can internalize their own yearning for having placement in the world, just as Earl seeks to find his own. It is only after I finished reading the story and let it sit in my mind for several days, letting it turn around, that I was able to realise this. The amount of craft that Ford displays through the white space that he does not even write, makes what he does write that much more powerful because it displays the disjointedness of true human narrative.

There is a ruggedness to his work and to his characters. It is as though they are so worn out and whom seem to have lived so long that they consider their lives and stories to be out of place. The gaps provide a way in which the yearning for placement can happen. Earl’s yearning for a place in the trailer or for toys in the back of a car that is his own are ways in which Ford displays this hunger. It is not material things that he wants though, it runs much deeper than a search for a wallet, a car, or a new place to live. It is in fact a search for the gap that is ahead in his life. Who is he? What does he want? What does he feel that he has to do? Where will his life end up when he falls through the next gap and has to make a decision? These are the questions that make up the human narrative as Ford tries to explain to us.

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One Response to The Gap In Between

  1. John Gregory Brown says:

    What an insightful, arresting comment, Allison. I’m struck in this story, as I often am in Richard Ford’s stories, by the ways in which his (male) protagonists drift between a vast and unbreachable silence in regards to their circumstances and a kind of hard-won wisdom that they earn too late to save themselves.

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