There is a certain type of book, well-represented in 20th- and 21st-century American literature, that is about Men Handling Things. I can’t define the precise requirements of this genre, but I know that I’ve read this type of book many times over, by anyone from Fitzgerald and Hemingway to the Richards Yates and Ford. And let me be clear, I’ve just named four of my favorite authors. I’m not going to rant against Men Handling Things novels. I mean to say that there are a lot of them.
Men Handling Things: On Stuart Nadler’s Wise Men by Janet Potter
Richard Ford has earned his place in the pantheon of late-20th-century American novelists, and 15 years ago, one could plausibly argue he was among the best Americans writing, but his later work — that is, most of what he’s done since he won the Pulitzer Prize for Independence Day in 1996 — has seemed of a lesser quality.
Across the Border: Richard Ford’s Canada by Michael Bourne