PATRICK STEPHENSON

Earthbound concerns of an ascendant adult

Richard Ford’s Hugh-Jassed Error

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I’ve discovered an anachronism in Richard Ford’s Independence Day! Errors like these might be common in Ford’s novels—I’m not worldly enough to spot more—but I’ve found one and lain claim to it. See page 194 of Ford’s Independence Day. Having left his gf Sally’s, en route to his ex-wife Ann’s home in CT, Frank Bascombe (main character) stops at a road side tourist attraction—henceforth “The Vince”—to check his voicemail (or, I suppose, his answering machine) and phone a few friends. As ever, Frank sets the scene:

Defeated, I’m nonetheless ready to go, and take off striding right out through the lobby. Gaunt boys from Moonachie and Nutley are straying in toward the Mortal Kombat and Drug War machines, angling for the big kills. New weary-eyed travelers wander through the front doors, seeking relief of some stripe, ignoring the Vince trophy case—too much on a late night.

Independence Day, Richard Ford

Because the selection is short, I’m sure the error is obvious. Independence Day, like Ford’s two other Bascombe novels, is set a few years prior its publication. Although it was published in 1995, Independence Day takes place around July 4, 1988, and as such mentions the upcoming presidential election, plus includes some requisite Bush (and Dukakis) bashing. Note that year: 1988 (significant also because Donnie Darko saved Earth that Halloween). So what’s the problem?

Check out those Gaunt Boy arcade games at the Vince—Mortal Kombat, Drug Wars. But Midway released Mortal Kombat‘s first arcade incarnation in 1992, four years after Independence Day takes place! I’d never heard of Drug Wars. Some research followed, and I found Crime Patrol 2: Drug Wars, a “live-action laserdisc video game, first released by American Laser Games in 1994.” It was, according to my Wikipedian sources, never even [faux Latin to follow] in arcade. The game’s predecessor, Crime Patrol, a popular arcade game in 1993, was.

Obviously, these errors are insignificant. Ford knew enough to name-drop a title or two, but he failed to ensure the games he chose were consistent with the book’s setting. That’s cool. I understand. Could these errors imply something else? Is Frank telling this story from a POV several years hence, when those videogames were all out, and merely confusing an insignificant aspect of the present with the past? For those un-versed in gaming, it could seem such games exist in an eternal present. ‘Mortal Kombat, a cultural touchstone/whatever, has always been around! We never lived in a pre-Mortal Kombat period!’

It’s possible.

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Written by patiomensch

February 10, 2007 at 6:54 pm

Posted in Books, Quotes, Richard Ford

One Response

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  1. hzfdhjdzdiuwaeexwell, hi admin adn people nice forum indeed. how’s life? hope it’s introduce branch ;)

    CoapsPoiseeQuovoms

    December 28, 2008 at 11:28 pm


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