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Richard Ford won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Independence Day, which starred aging and cranky Frank Bascombe. Frank returns in a fourth installment, Let Me Be Frank, which finds him in his late 60s and living in New Jersey. In four linked novellas, Frank lives through the build-up to Christmas, 2012, surrounded by the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy. He runs into the man who bought his previous house (now wrecked by the storm), meets a woman who claims to have grown up and suffered great tragedy in Frank's current house, and visits with his ex-wife and re-experiences a longing for what might have been. Frank's wry outlook and general grumpiness have a certain Statler-and-Waldorf charm, and also allow for a guarded optimism about late, late middle age. Ford discusses and signs Let Me Be Frank at St. Louis County Library Headquarters.

7 p.m. Tue., Dec. 9. St. Louis County Library Headquarters (1640 St. Lindbergh Boulevard, Frontenac; 314-994-3300 or www.slcl.org). Free admission.
Tue., Dec. 9, 7 p.m., 2014

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