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Canada by Richard Ford


by Richard Ford

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Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Strange novel written from the perspective of an adolescent (who matures into a grown man) who, with his twin sister, finds himself adrift after his parents get arrested for an inept bank robbery. Before the authorities realize that the children are alone and put them into the foster care system, the sister runs away. A workplace friend of the jailed mother transports the narrator from his home in Montana to a hotel that her brother owns in a small town in Saskatchewan.
A lot happens in the novel, and there's a lot for both the narrator and the reader to chew on. ( )
  dickmanikowski | Jan 12, 2015 |
This book was strange and beautiful. ( )
  NatalieSW | Jan 1, 2015 |
In comparison to another review on here which preferred the first half of this book I think I would say that the second half was the more intriguing. Yes the first half set the scene well but it did feel like a bit of overkill. The background and the consequences of the robbery are picked over in minute detail. I definitely found this part slow going whereas the second half of the book flew by. Overall though a very thought provoking book and yes it definitely did feel emotionally draining by the end of it. Powerful stuff. ( )
  polarbear123 | Dec 30, 2014 |
I am a big Ford fan, but bucking the critical consensus, I wouldn't put Canada up there with his very best. It's unequivocally a book of two halves, and for me, the first half was a much stronger book than the second. It left me with a feeling of slight flabbiness, and that Ford had a destination in mind, determined to get there at the expense of better construction.

Del Parson is the narrator of the novel, an older man now stepping us through the most tumultuous period of his life, when his parents resolved to commit a bank robbery. That decision will shatter Del's young life and change him, and his family, inalterably.

The first thing to talk about, when you're talking about Ford's books, is the prose. As always, it is achingly good. His ability to capture the thoughts of a fifteen year old boy, when written from the vantage point of a man in his sixties (both Ford, and the adult Del, looking back), is remarkable. What's even more remarkable is its readability. Ford has never been one for literary pyrotechnics, but the profundity and beauty of his words is easy glide over and miss because it's just so darned easy to digest. The simplicity belies the care and weight Ford invests in his sentences. The way he closes his chapters is just beauitful poetry.

There's an equal facility (mostly; we'll get to that), with his characters. Ford isn't interested in cutting anyone's heads open, and laying their thoughts out for the reader to pick through like beachcombers. Instead we get actions, sometimes cryptic; words, often contradictory; and Del's own insightful, but limited observations. It works, very well. Del's portrait of his brittle, strained family and prickly twin sister are so real and undeniably human, I found myself helplessly loving them just as Del does.

Ford struggles more in the second half of the book, where Del interacts with a far more eccentric (and I felt less real) cast of characters. Whilst Ford refuses to overwrite, in dealing with characters that are more extreme, it's easier to slip towards cliche or cypher - which disappointed me. I also felt the rushed timeline lent an unreal air to this part of the story. The tension he had built so masterfully in the first half was strangely absent, and the denouement was simply far too speedy.

For all that, it is not a bad book; simply a less strong one from Ford. Well worth reading from one of the masters of American literature. ( )
  patrickgarson | Dec 28, 2014 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
  JosieRivers | Dec 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Willa Cather once wrote that “a creative writer can do his best only with what lies within the range and character of his deepest sympathies.” By that measure, and any other, Richard Ford is doing his very best in his extraordinary new novel, “Canada,” his first book since “The Lay of the Land” six years ago. Here, Ford is clearly writing within the range and character of his deepest sympathies — in this case, from the point of view of an abandoned 15-year-old boy — and he’s doing it with a level of linguistic mastery that is rivaled by few, if any, in American letters today.

...it is a masterwork by one of our finest writers working at the top of his form.
...his [Richard Ford's] philosophy is best summed up by the wisdom he passes on to the students in his writing class, which manages to be both matter-of-fact and poetic: "I believe in what you see being most of what there is… and that life's passed on to us empty. So, while significance weighs heavy, that's the most it does. Hidden meaning is all but absent."

Perhaps that is the abiding subject of all Richard Ford's work. Here, though it is broached by way of some uncharacteristically violent interludes, it resounds with a newfound clarity. A surprisingly different kind of great Richard Ford novel, then, and one that casts its spell very slowly and with a steady cumulative power.
Canada is a superlatively good book, richly imagined and beautifully fashioned. Although it is too early to do so, one is tempted to acclaim it a masterpiece. It catches movingly the grinding loneliness at the heart of American life – of life anywhere. As the narrative makes its measured progress, the sadness steadily accumulates, a weightless silt that gets under the eyelids. The final encounter at the close of the book between Dell and Berner is one of the most tenderly drawn scenes in modern literature, and could only have been written by a writer of Richard Ford's empathy, insight and technical mastery.
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First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.
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Book description
When fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank, his sense of a happy, knowable life is forever shattered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives his life across a threshold that can never be uncrossed. His parent's arrest and imprisonment mean a threatening and uncertain future for Dell and his twin sister, Berner. Willful and burning with resentment, Berner flees their home in Montana, abandoning her brother and her life. But Dell is not completely alone. A family friend intervenes, spiriting him across the Canadian border, in hopes of delivering him to better life. There, afloat on a prairie of Saskatchewan, Dell is taken in by Authur Remlinger, an enigmatic and charismatic American, whose suave reserve makes a dark and violent nature. Undone by the calamity of his parents' robbery and arrest, Dell struggles under the vast prairie sky to remake himself and define the adults he thought he knew and loved. But his search for grace and peace only moves him nearer a harrowing and murderous collision with Remlinger, an elemental force of darkness. (ARC)
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In 1956, Dell Parsons' family came to a stop in Great Falls, Montana, the way many military families did after the war. His father, Bev, was a talkative airman from Alabama with an optimistic and easy-scheming nature. Their mother Neeva - shy, artistic - was alienated from their father's small-town world. It was more bad instincts and bad luck that Dell's parents decided to rob the bank. They weren't reckless people. In the days following the arrest, Dell is saved before the authorities think to arrive. Driving across Montana, his life hurtles towards the unknown; a hotel in a deserted town, the violent and enigmatic Arthur Remlinger, and towards Canada itself. But, as Dell discovers, in this new world of secrets and upheaval, he is not the only one whose past lies on the other side of a border.… (more)

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