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Canada by Richard Ford
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Canada (edition 2012)

by Richard Ford

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1,234726,440 (3.66)77
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 (64)  Spanish (5)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (71)
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
For me, there was just far too much detail---Dell's remembering of 50 years ago in extreme detail, down to colors and textures and eye meanings, mouth movements. Yes, a large part of the novel happened over a very few days when the life-changing event for him occurred but it was exhausting to listen to. I kept waiting for the audio to actually get somewhere. It seemed overly long with Dell's over-analysis of everything that had happened to him as a 15 year old---yes, absolutely not normal in any stretch of the word, but also not completely great reading/listening-to material in a novel. ( )
  nyiper | Aug 17, 2014 |
So. Canada. This is a book about a 15-year-old boy named Dell whose parents decide to rob a bank, which completely disrupts his and his twin sister's lives. The story is told by an older Dell looking back on the whole experience, but he manages to keep his younger self's perspective.

It's a very quiet book. All of the strange events (bank robbery, crossing the border to run from the law, etc.) are presented very calmly. Most of the time, they're even sort of spoiled by the narrator before they even take place. But the point doesn't really seem to be to thrill the reader with the events, it's too look more closely at them and the people doing such things. That's my issue with the book, though. I don't think that it can't have both aspects.

Almost the entire first half of the book is set up for the bank robbery that is mentioned in the first line. I wouldn't normally have that much of an issue with that (probably), but it was a lot of the narrator explaining how his parents, the robbers, are rather than showing us through their actions. Then, the second half, after the robbery actually occurs. I think I would've liked it better if it was a bit less subdued and a bit more consequential. But I can't deny that the adult characters Dell got thrown into the lives of were interesting. And I did love how Ford represented small, dying off towns. His writing isn't embellished (normally a con for me), but his descriptions of these places still left a very strong impression on me.

So. Canada. Maybe I went in with too high of expectations. I liked the characters, I liked most of the points about people/events that the narrator made (though he didn't necessarily need to say all of them outright to us). But I found myself excited to be finished so I could go on to read something else. Not the best sign. ( )
  outlandishlit | Jun 9, 2014 |
This book was always going to be a stretch for our Monday Night group. Ford’s somewhat cold and clinical style left most of us feeling his characters unexplored and one dimensional. This is not to say we didn’t find the story compelling. In fact, most of us were intrigued by 15- year-old Dell’s narrative. His and twin sister Berner’s bizarre, dysfunctional family life demanded our attention … and a conclusion! Sadly, some of us could not muster the emotional attachment it took to continue with the second half and simply lost interest.

But for those of us who read on, it became a macabre struggle of survival for young Dell, despite all the odds pitted against him. Something that both Delia and Cheryl found fascinating. Sandra too was captivated by this dark and, to some degree, depressing tale.
It put us all on the trail of ‘parentless children’ and how they can literally fall through the cracks of a welfare system. Something we were sure could easily happen in the backwaters of Montana during Dell’s time, the mid ‘50s.

Slow beginning aside, the story escalated into a thought provoking and interesting read that left us pondering the many loose ends that the author left untouched … Dell’s evident escape to a better life, and his sister’s unknown future, to name a few. A neat and tidy story Canada may not be, but it kept the majority of our group sufficiently enthralled and more importantly, wanting more. ( )
  DaptoLibrary | May 20, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 64 (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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