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Canada by Richard Ford
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Canada (edition 2012)

by Richard Ford

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1,148None7,088 (3.67)71
Member:jiediebie
Title:Canada
Authors:Richard Ford
Info:London Bloomsbury 2012
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:roman, identiteit, ouder-kindrelatie

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Canada by Richard Ford

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English (61)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (64)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
A heavy mantle of foreboding hangs over much of the action of Canada, Richard Ford's masterful new novel. This is the story of Dell Parsons, who in 1960 is fifteen and growing up with his mother and father and twin sister Berner in Great Falls, Montana when the family unit is abruptly blown apart in the wake of an ill-planned and ineptly executed bank robbery committed by their parents. After their parents are arrested the resentful Berner simply walks away, apparently to forge a life for herself elsewhere. Dell waits in the passive fashion that we learn is habitual to him, and is eventually rescued by a friend of his mother, who had agreed to take both children to Canada to live with her brother in rural Saskatchewan, a place that in Ford's vision is bleak and harrowing and smouldering with repressed violence. Dell spends his time in Saskatchewan closely observing the strange people around him, keeping his emotions in check and committing himself to nothing, while trying to reinvent himself--he does not want the fact that he is the son of bank robbers to define his life. It turns out that the man into whose care he has been delivered, Arthur Remlinger, has spent years doing the same thing: struggling to emerge from the shadow of a rash act of violence committed by the passionate and idealistic youth he used to be. As Remlinger's past slowly catches up with him, we wait with Dell to see what Remlinger will do when pushed to the wall. Much of the novel explores how past acts contribute to the person we become in the present, the impossibility of denying these acts, the inescapable consequences and the need for acceptance. It is also a novel about crossing borders, physical and moral. The narrative, first person from Dell's perspective, is dark and taut, crowded with untrustworthy characters all keeping an eye on each other and filled with astute observations on human behaviour. The brief final section shows us Dell and Berner reunited fifty years after the main action, each having responded in his and her own way to their parent's fateful decision. This is a wise and profound work of fiction that you will not soon forget. ( )
  icolford | Mar 18, 2014 |
Superb first section. I still need to finish it. ( )
  jconnell | Mar 9, 2014 |
This book opens with two very provocative sentences, "First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later". But if you think you will be reading a pot boiler, a thriller, you will be wrong. (It is a page turner though.) It is the story of a tragedy, of a rupture in the normal fabric of life. Read it for the writing. The prose is lean and spare and beautiful. The sense of place evokes the endless expanse of the prairie in the midwest of the U.S. and the desolation of those prairies moving north into Canada. It speaks of the innocence and compassion that only a child can find when confronted with the unimaginable. There is adventure, but this is a somber book. It's terribly rewarding though and I recommend it. ( )
  m2snick | Feb 19, 2014 |
This book opens with two very provocative sentences, "First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later". But if you think you will be reading a pot boiler, a thriller, you will be wrong. (It is a page turner though.) It is the story of a tragedy, of a rupture in the normal fabric of life. Read it for the writing. The prose is lean and spare and beautiful. The sense of place evokes the endless expanse of the prairie in the midwest of the U.S. and the desolation of those prairies moving north into Canada. It speaks of the innocence and compassion that only a child can find when confronted with the unimaginable. There is adventure, but this is a somber book. It's terribly rewarding though and I recommend it. ( )
  m2snick | Feb 19, 2014 |
The Short of It:

The anatomy of a crime, as told by one of the characters most affected by it.

The Rest of It:

"First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later. The robbery is the more important part, since it served to set my and my sister’s lives on the courses they eventually followed. Nothing would make complete sense without that being told first." (First lines of Canada)

Those opening lines set the stage for Dell’s story. His parents, struggling to make a life for themselves in Great Falls, Montana, rob a bank after getting involved in an illegal business deal. Their hope, is to pay off their debt and begin again. What Bev Parsons does not know, is that his wife Neeva sees this criminal act as a way to escape a lifetime with the man she married. Dell and his sister Berner are left to a family friend who has plans to get them out of the country. But as twins, and only fifteen, they are not sure what to make of the things happening around them.

What a book. I’ve never read Richard Ford before but when my book club picked it for January I had to give it a try. It’s not a book a reader can love. The story is too bleak for that, but I did appreciate the languid writing. Some of the members in the group compared Ford to Richard Russo and I agree. His writing reminded me a lot of Russo.

Many of the details shared are “day in the life” type details but at the same time, Ford uses foreshadowing to string the reader along. It works. I read these 400+ pages in two sittings. Telling the story from Dell’s sheltered perspective is somewhat limiting at times, but his wide-eyed wonder at the things going on around him made him vulnerable which lent the story a fragile, precarious quality.

What I most enjoyed, is the discussion that took place afterward. It’s hard to imagine what drives people to do the things they do, but it was fun to discuss it. Dell’s parents were never normal, in the traditional sense of the word. They kept their kids sheltered, were not successful in any way and tried to remain under the radar. Living in that small town, they managed to avoid most of their neighbors and didn’t seem to know how to interact with the people around them, or each other. This should have helped them in the end, but it’s really what did them in.

Ford can tell a tale and his sense of place is strong here. I enjoyed his style of writing so much, that I will be sure to seek out his other books. Have you read any of his books?

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Jan 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (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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