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Canada by Richard Ford
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Canada (edition 2012)

by Richard Ford

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1,5301004,802 (3.67)149
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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Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
I Really enjoyed this one. I thought the pace was a bit slow in the middle, but perhaps necessary. The chapters were short during the tumultuous early years when his parents become criminals, than longer during his time in the prairies of Canada, when time really slows down for the young protagonist son. Really gave me a sense of time and space. It was my first book by Richard Ford and I am looking forward to another one. Really loved his writing. I so wanted to give this 5 stars, but not this time. ( )
  bpeters65 | Jul 16, 2016 |
Couldn't finish. Very long winded without a lot of story. Took chapters of talking about a bank robbery that parents would do. I didn't last to the actual robbery. ( )
  Dec31 | Jun 18, 2016 |
Canada – Richard Ford
Audio performance by Holter Graham

4 stars

”First, I’ll tell you about the robbery our parents committed.”

This is the voice of the middle-aged, soon to be retired, Dell Parsons, as he begins to describe his fifteenth year. It is a very gripping first sentence. It certainly grabbed my attention. What follows is a slow moving, introspective narrative of this pivotal year in his life.
Dell sets out to examine the minutiae of the events that caused the disintegration of his family and changed the entire course of his life. From the beginning, Dell tells us that there will be a much more horrific crime than the robbery mentioned in the first sentence. Early on, Dell also let’s the reader know that he has, generally, had a happy life. There is consequently, little suspense in the final outcome.

There was a lot to value in this book. There is some beautiful writing; sharp descriptions and insightful statements. There is also a great deal of repetition. The impression that I have of Dell Parsons is that he is trying to precisely analyze his experience without any emotional involvement in the memories. With the narrator’s lack of emotional involvement, I found it difficult to care about any of the other dysfunctional and disconnected characters. I was ready to give up on Dell as the story progressed. I found it hard to imagine how any boy of that age could be so passive. Overall I found the story to be terribly depressing and aggravating. I was aggravated that there were no responsible adults to step in to help this boy and I was depressed by the unending futility of so many wasted lives.

So, I didn’t enjoy this book. I didn’t like it. But I value the writing, hence the four star review. Here is a final statement from the last page of the book.

“What I know is, you have a better chance in life ---of survivng it---if you tolerate loss well; manage not to be a cynic through it all; to subordinate, as Ruskin implied, to keep proportion, to connect the unequal things into a whole that preserves the good, even if admittedly good is often not simple to find.”
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
The opening lines are already famous, and they lure us in with the promise that what follows will be just as good. “First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.”
His parents "...were regular people tricked by circumstance and bad instincts, along with bad luck, to venture outside of boundaries they knew to be right, and then found themselves unable to go back.”
His rhythm and his voice are remarkably consistent through the book. “Our family came to a stop in Great Falls, Montana, in 1956, the way many military families came to where they came to following the war.” The cadence carries you along, like a slow-moving boat bobbing along but nonetheless headed steadfastly in one direction.
Part One is as promised, the story of his parents and the robbery, told from the perspective of the 15 year old son Dell. This is the strongest and most memorable part of the book. It's not just Dell who is coming of age, but in some ways his parents too. Dell says about his father, “During all these years I’ve thought about his eyes, and how they became so different. And since so much was about to change because of him, I’ve thought possibly that a long-suppressed potential in him had suddenly worked itself into visibility on his face. He was becoming who and what he was always supposed to be. He’d simply had to wear down through the other layers to who he really was.”
The tensions builds slowly to the robbery.
“Things you did. Things you never did. Things you dreamed. After a long time they run together.”
He describes his parents heading to the robbery. They are still regular people, they haven't yet actually gone down that branch of the fork in the road they are approaching. “…It’s the edging closer to the point of no return that’s fascinating: all along the trip, chatting, sharing confidences, exchanging endearments — since their life was officially still intact.”
Ford compares this to drifting on a raft, or up in a balloon. “You notice it, or you don’t notice it. But you’re already too far away, and all is lost.”
It’s a slow-mo telling. Slow-mo, freeze while he digresses, more slow-mo. But still inexorably heading towards those robberies.
“Lacking an awareness of consequence might’ve been their greatest flaw.”

In Part 2 Dell is borne to Canada. “…you crossed borders to escape things and possibly to hide, and Canada in his view was a good place for that. But it also meant you became someone different in the process — which was happening to me, and I needed to accept it.”
He struggles to regain equilibrium and a new perspective, difficult for a teenager who really hasn't even yet lived enough to develop those in the first instance. But he does start to figure some things out. “Things happen when people are not where they belong, and the world moves forward and back by that principle.”
Occasionally he casually drops in a phrase that blends in so easily with its neighbours that you delay recognising its significance. It is said as if he knew the reader already knew that particular fragment, so there’s no point embellishing it or dwelling on it. 'There it is, as you know, and so of course this follows.' Except we didn’t know. At first reading I briefly wonder “did I miss that information the first time he told me?” But of course not, he has been quite careful not to tell us. The actual information flow is precisely calibrated. And so the story unfolds. He opens the doors to the future and to the murders with these casual lines.
A 4 for the story, but a 5 for style and the wonderful voice. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Beautifully written book about the disintegration of a family. I am not sure whether I enjoyed reading it b/c I found it very sad and haunting. Although it speaks to the resilience of some people (main character goes through a great deal of adversity but pulls through) the story itself was focused more on the adversity and makes the reader infer what happened to Dell in early-middle adulthood. As a result, I personally felt like a large piece of the story was missing between parts 2 & 3 and felt unsatisfied by the ending. What was about about Dell's character and life decisions that made him emerge as a successful and "happy" adult whereas his twin was unable to attain much? However, it was thought provoking and an engaging read. ( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (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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