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Canada by Richard Ford


by Richard Ford

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Read as audio book - in French.
I waited and waited. To find the point in the book. It didn't come. It's a litany of seemingly unconnected, uninteresting episodes. What is it about these killings? And the fuss they make about the robbery?
Most ironically, the "Remerciements" at the end seem to try to revaluate the book, as though by listing and praising dozens of people the reader would finally acknowledge that it's big.
At least it proves that I tried til the end!
  Kindlegohome | Jul 10, 2015 |
“Canada” is a meditation. Like life on the 49th parallel, it is at times bleak but also majestic in scope. It is a story of youth represented by summer below the 49th in Great Falls, Montana and growth represented by winter above the 49th.

As the story opens we are told from the beginning that Dell Parson’s parents have committed a bank robbery, been jailed, his mother has committed suicide and he and his sister have been left to fend mostly for themselves and to find their way in the world without help from their parents.

The Parson’s are an Air Force family. Their father a debonair southern charmer is a Captain in the USAF. Their mother, the daughter of Polish immigrants raised in Tacoma, Washington is everything their father is not – dark, dour and reserved. Their one commonality is the love they have for their daughter Berner and their son Dell. Ultimately, due to the character weaknesses in both parents and the inability to support their family, a bank robbery is committed. From the planning or lack of, until the act itself, we know that this endeavor has no chance of succeeding.

The story before the robbery, unfolds in the setting of Great Falls, Montana in 1960. It is an examination of small town life; what it means to be an American and the role of the white man and his relationships in shaping the plight of the Native American’s in the region. It has a triangle of race relations between a corrupt African American Pullman porter, local Native American cattle rustlers and Capt. Parson’s running a meat scam that carried over from his time in the USAF.

The story after the robbery speaks briefly to the fall out and dissolution of the family but more importantly focuses on Dell, His twin sister Berner leaves to start her own life and it is not until the very end of the book that we discover what road she traveled and where she ends up. We do know that she is headed to San Francisco in an attempt to reunite with a boyfriend she had in Great Falls.

Dell is taken to Canada. This occurs because of an arrangement Dell’s mother makes with an acquaintance. Once there, Dell is more or less provided with a job, very rudimentary accommodations and left to fend for himself. Throughout the book, Dell’s interest in chess is almost an allegory of how to survive in life. Sacrifices have to be made in order to succeed and like chess, the game of life cannot be rushed or fast forwarded in order to achieve the end game.

This is not a book for readers who need action in order to hold their interest. The story is told in some detail through the eyes of a fifteen year old boy. It includes all the missed cues and misunderstandings of youth and the slow realizations of what is happening as a child is forced to grow up quickly. In that sense, the book is very much a meditation. It is somewhat poetic and the beauty is in the stark detail.

This is the first book that I have read by Richard Ford but from other things I have read about this author this slow, melodic, poetic way of storytelling is a signature of Ford’s. If you can allow yourself to take the time and appreciate the slow pace of this book, you will definitely enjoy it. I did and I look forward to reading other works by this author. ( )
  ozzieslim | Jun 15, 2015 |
First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.”

From that very first line, you know that this is not going to be the typical coming of age story.

Dell Parsons and his fraternal twin sister, Berner, live with their parents in Great Falls, Montana. They had moved around quite a bit and so don't have many ties or friendships within their community. At sixteen Dell is a member of the school's chess club and considers beekeeping as a hobby. Berner has a boyfriend. Their mother teaches at a nearby school.

But then their father gets entangled in a shady scheme and when it goes wrong, he decides that the only way to pay off the bad guys and end the death threats is to rob a bank. When the kids' mother refuses to let her son drive the getaway car, she also becomes part of the scheme.

It doesn't end well. Both parents disappear into the prison system and the teenaged Berner and Dell are left alone. Berner runs away, heading for the Coast rather than risking being in the juvenile system. Dell is spirited away to Canada and lives an independent life supposedly under the non-watchful eye of his mother's friend's brother – a secretive, non-communicative man with an incident buried in his past that will drag Dell into more of the same, including, finally, the murders mentioned in the novel's first sentence.

The story is told by the 66 year old Dell, about to retire. He relates his life lessons: Other people's choices may shatter your current life in an instant, but you don't have to be defined by them. The people who do best in life are the ones who overcome loss and move onward.

This is not a fast paced crime story and there aren't any spoilers in this book. Throughout the novel we are teased with upcoming information from a later part of the tale, just as we are in the first sentence. This was an interesting way of telling the story – forward flashes, giving hints and bits of events to come throughout the narrative. Instead of being 'spoilers' however, they drew me on, eager to see up close events glimpsed briefly from a distance, like a mountain range seen distantly at the edge of the Big Sky's prairie horizon. ( )
  streamsong | May 22, 2015 |
Excellent coming of age book. So fabulous ( )
  shazjhb | Apr 11, 2015 |
After hesitating to try it at all (comparisons of Ford to John Updike really put me off), and then being disinfected* by some style issues in the first few chapters, I found myself totally engrossed with this novel, in which Dell Parsons, from a perspective of 50 years hence, tells us about a presumably formative period of his life--the year he was almost 16, when his parents, by stupidly attempting to rob a bank, effectively abandoned Dell and his twin sister, Berner. In order to prevent her children's ending up in the hands of the juvenile authorities in the event of her arrest (which she seems to have had wits enough to realize was inevitable), Mrs. Parsons arranged for a friend to spirit them away to Canada where presumably they could start life over without the inconvenient baggage of convicted bank robbers for parents. Berner had other ideas, but Dell ended up under the dubious protection of a big fish in the mighty small pond of Fort Royal, Saskatchewan, a place where nothing much happened other than goose hunting, and where he had plenty of time to ponder questions that had already started to bother him: does a man's character show in his face? are you destined to be who you become by some fundamental element of your makeup? does it really matter what happens to you, or will you become your true self regardless? It's a quiet journey Dell takes, despite a bit of violence here and there, and ultimately he believes he ended up precisely where he would have, had his parents gone on with their "ordinary" lives, sent him to college and never dreamed of robbing a bank or sending him off to be fostered by strangers in a strange land. I'm not sure when I stopped minding Ford's style, or if he dropped the awkward quirks that broke my reading stride early on, but by page 75 or so, I was just caught in the story, and that part of my brain that is aware of the author was sound asleep in a corner somewhere. I'm docking the novel 1/2 a star for the rocky start, although that may have been my own fault. I am very glad to have made Richard Ford's acquaintance, and am happy to say I find him much more in affinity with John Irving (Last Night in Twisted River came to mind) than with Updike.

*cf Bucky Katt

Review written March 2015 ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Apr 7, 2015 |
It is a very interesting story about a short part of a man's life when he was 15 years old and how this had influenced his whole life. The events are told by himself 50 years. The story is set in three parts whereas the first part is the longest and is set in the USA. Therefore I had some difficulties to make a link to its title. Part two and three are mostly set in Cananda. In the first part he describes his family and the his parent's bank robbery. It is fascinating how detailed he is telling the incident. I got a very good feeling about all family members and the strong bond between him and his twin sister. In the second part he arrived in Cananda where he had to learn being on his own and how greenly he was. In the third part he is telling us how he is living today, what he is doing and what is important for him. It's also how he gets confronted with his past.
The story is carefully written with a lot of love for all characters. ( )
  Ameise1 | Mar 25, 2015 |
a story of a boy who survives the foolish acts of adults. His parents rob a bank and are arrested, his sister runs away and his mother has arranged that he is taken to Canada to live with unreliable strangers, completely alone. This is not giving anything away, the reader always knows because the boy, Del, tells you. The setting is 1960. I really had a hard time believing some of this story but then, maybe. Del was a twin. He wanted to go to school. He had interests such as bee keeping. He was a good kid. What really held me was the narration. Something about Del's voice was very compelling. It's a story that looks at marginalized life, breakdown of family and the effects of crime on the children. ( )
  Kristelh | Mar 23, 2015 |
Richard Ford is one of my favorite authors. No American male should go through life without reading the Harry Bascombe trilogy. This novel, like his earlier one Wildlife, is a reflective piece where the narrator looks back at his life. Now a days as we have the ability to download a sample of the novel, I was pretty much hooked by the first sentence. "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." The book goes on to detail how the narrator (Dell) and his sister moved around during their earlier years, children of a retired military man in the 60's. His father's inability to find work led him to develop a scheme of selling meat, slaughtered by the Cree Indians and sold to the railroad. He was the middleman and the one stuck in the middle when the deal went south. Soon after that Dell and his sister's life goes south as well as a failed bank robbery leaves them as virtual orphans. The narrative then moves into Dell's experience in Canada, living with an eccentric brother of his mother's friend. It is a harsh experience, but Dell manages to reflect how to adjust to the changes life throws at you.
"The world doesn’t usually think about bank robbers as having children — though plenty must. But the children’s story — which mine and my sister’s is — is ours to weigh and apportion and judge as we see fit. . . . Ruskin wrote that composition is the arrangement of unequal things. Which means it’s for the composer to determine what’s equal to what, and what matters more and what can be set to the side of life’s hurtling passage onward.” This is an important theme in the novel, and one that is appropriate to suit some of the events in my life right now - the idea of tolerating loss well.
I would recommend this book to others. If you are new to Richard Ford , start at the Sportswriter. the Harry Bascombe books, like Updike's Rabbit novels, are essential American reading experiences. ( )
  novelcommentary | Mar 22, 2015 |
Things you did. Things you never did. Things you dreamed. After a long time they run together. Page 77

Dell Parson and his twin sister Berner have their world turned upside down when their parents commit a crime that would forever separate their family. With his parents incarcerated and his sister taking off to make a life for herself, fifteen year old Dell is whisked off to the little god forsaken dot on a map in Saskatchewan. Hiding among strangers, Dell will come to terms with what life has given and taken and that sometimes life doesn't give us any answers, even when we try to ask the right questions.

I'm not quite sure what to make of Canada after initially finishing the book. None of the actions of the characters in the books made any logical sense to me, even when they tried to give it an explanation. I'm not even sure what the point of the story was, but I am glad that despite having the odds stacked against him, and his numerous encounters with questionable people, Dell was able to maintain a semblance of a normal existence, whatever normal means. Given that Ford is a Pulitzer Prize winner, I'd want to give his other works a try, but judging Canada completely on its own merits, I'm not exactly convinced yet. Not a book I'd recommend that you have to pick up right at this very second. ( )
  jolerie | Mar 13, 2015 |
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 |
This is a compelling story of one family (two adults; two children) -- make no mistake about it. But I thought it took Richard Ford (a consummate writer, by the way) a long time to tell it.

By the end of the story, I was exhausted. It was emotionally wrenching -- particularly from the standpoint of Dell (the boy in the story).

I highly recommend "Canada" -- but possibly not as a first read (if you haven't already read any of Ford's other works). ( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
Drawn by the title, and the author's pedigree, I came to the novel Canada as a Canadian, anticipating a story illuminating this vast and diverse country and people.

Instead, what I came upon was an author trying too hard, and unsuccessfully, to channel the likes of F. Scott FitzGerald or John Steinbeck, carrying with him a typically American ignorance of Canada, its people, its culture, its heritage.

The story revolves, endlessly, around a bank-robbing mother and father who, through their idiocy and sense of entitlement, leave their children, fraternal twins, barely into adolescence as orphans and essentially homeless.

The novel is full of implausibilities: the fact there are no social services to take charge of the children at the time of the arrest of the parents; the smuggling of the unreliable narrator into Canada to an alleged safe house; the robbery itself. The list is just too long to enumerate here.

The writing, although lauded by critics as a 'meticulous concern for the nuances of language', to this reader fell flat, lacklustre, without that alleged meticulous concern for the nuance of language. Frankly, it read as so much blah, blah, blah. In fact, the first third of the book is interminably expository, given little credence or gravitas by the nature of Ford's use of the unreliable narrator.

When we finally come to the denouement, we are treated to a moment out of an old Peggy Lee song, Is That All There Is? Which is followed quickly by a complete change of scenery and time, one cannot help but feel because the author ran out of steam.

The characters were so utterly cardboard as to be ridiculous.

And let us not even begin to speak of the gross misunderstanding of anything to do with Canada, let alone Saskatchewan. Frankly, upon consideration, I would recommend every Canadian to pick up this novel, particularly if you're from Saskatchewan, just to explode into laughter at how wrong this writer could envisage that oceanic, wildly free geography we know as the middle province of the Prairies.

Finally, good job, Richard Ford, by way of insulting every Canadian who might read this book by stating several times in the novel: Canadians are just like Americans, and, Canadians want to be just like Americans. Seriously?

Next time the author of Canada wishes to write with authority about a foreign country, I suggest he actually live in that country for a period of time, immerse himself in the culture and the people, then, and only then, he might begin to approach the subject matter with some authority. But, then, maybe not. Any author who can write with sublime confidence that Canadians are just like Americans plainly hasn't a clue and should stick to writing about his own culture. ( )
1 vote fiverivers | Oct 30, 2014 |
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. ( )
1 vote outlandishlit | Jun 9, 2014 |
I didn't mean to read this book; I thought it was going to be about Canada.

I wonder how Canadians feel about an American compared to Hemingway and other great American writers taking the name ‘Canada’ and using it for a title, in a book which is mostly about fictional Americans, set in fictional ghost towns in Saskatchewan. There’s something about naming a story after a country which raises expectations. This isn’t necessarily a good thing. Take that shitty movie Australia, for instance.

(While reading this book I happened across an interview with the author on Canadian radio and listened to it via podcast – perhaps the Canadians are too nice to ask this very question, because the interviewer didn’t.)

The other thing is, the characters in this book called Canada don’t actually get to Canada for a long while. In fact, the bank robbery is announced in the first paragraph (so I’m not spoiling anything for you there) and the actual robbery takes place page 97. What happens in that first 97 pages? Bank robbery details and characterisation. This made me think. I wondered if the pace of modern storytelling has changed to the point where a bank robbery that takes 97 pages to happen is an anomaly in a storytelling climate built for quick thrills.

It was after the bank robbery that I became engaged, funnily enough, because surely bank robberies would rate pretty high on the excitement scale. Then the book lost me again when it became apparent that the narrator had wandered again into the lives of criminals -- groteque ones, this time.

Richard Ford uses an interesting style of narration here, blending the voice of an adolescent boy and the 65 year old man he is when he supposedly pens his memoir. (I guess partly because it is revealed his mother had always wanted to be a writer.)Since this is the voice of an older English teacher, you get sentences which contain some clarification after the point -- orator style -- 'I went back to the hotel in the taxi, which had waited.' An omniscient voice would probably explain in some other way that the taxi had waited. This technique stood out to me throughout the book.

I wanted to know more about Berner/Bev, though in fact her life was probably more interesting as a synopsis.

The scene of the women's prison is the most memorable. Otherwise, this feels a lot like watching Fargo, the TV series, as I am doing at the moment, which I've heard described as 'white noir', full of scenes which stick in your memory later, even after you've forgotten the plot. ( )
  LynleyS | May 28, 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 |
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 |
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