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Canada LP Paperback – Large Print, May 22, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“This is a brilliant and engrossing portrait of a fragile American family and the fragile consciousness of a teenage boy. It is also fascinating in the way it reveals the plot in the opening page and then winds backwards, offering a more and more intimate version of the story.” (Colm Toibin)

“Pure vocal grace, quiet humor, precise and calm observation.” (The New Yorker)

“[Canada]confirms his position as one of the finest stylists and most humane storytellers in America… his most elegiac and profound book…” (Washington Post)

“Robust and powerful… Ford is able to tap into something momentous and elemental about the profound moral chaos behind the actions of seemingly responsible people… Ford has dramatized the frightening discovery of the world’s anarchic heart.” (Wall Street Journal)

“A triumph of voice.... The writing... is spare, but heartbreaking.” (USA Today)

“Richard Ford returns with one of his most powerful novels yet…Ford has never written better…Canada is Richard Ford’s best book since Independence Day, and despite its robbery and killings it too depends on its voice, a voice oddly calm and marked by the spare grandeur of its landscape.” (Daily Beast)

“Awe-inspiring… The laconic, grief-stricken voice of Dell, looking back on his past, trying to make some kind sense of what happened when his family imploded, keeps you turning pages, as do the quiet, thought-provoking revelations that Ford drops in throughout.” (O, the Oprah Magazine)

“Told in Ford’s exquisitely detailed, unhurried prose…Ford is interested here in the ways snap decisions can bend life in unexpected directions... Canada’s characters grapple with this... and the answers they come up with define the rest of their lives, along with this quietly thoughtful book.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Masterly… in Ford’s American tragedy, filled with lost innocence and inevitable violence—a rusting carnival, a rabbit caught in a coyote’s jaws—geography feels a lot like fate.” (Vogue)

“One of the most memorably heartbreaking novels of the year.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“[Ford’s] newest novel Canada, shows an artist in full command of his craft—sparsely elegant and bracingly direct, with a refreshing lack of irony or tricks.” (Men’s Journal)

“Marvelous…Canada is a masterpiece of a story with rich language and dialogue filled with suspense, bleakness, human frailties and flaws, and a little bit of hope seen through the eyes of an adolescent boy whose emotions seem often aligned with the desolate landscape of its setting.” (The Oregonian (Portland))

“A must-read. . . . Canada reminds us why Ford is considered one of this country’s most distinguished writers.” (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

“[A] deeply felt and magnificently imagined work…With Canada, Ford has given us his deepest exploration yet of weakness and betrayal set amid a boy’s coming of age. It is a memorable novel, suffused with love, sorrow and regret.” (Austin American-Statesman)

“[A] novel about big truths told by a writer with clear vision…solid, satisfying craftsmanship. This is a Richard Ford novel in the tradition of his earlier work. It also is a coming-of-age story, and a story about the discovery of identity.” (Washington Independent Review of Books)

From the Back Cover

When fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank, his sense of a happy, knowable life is forever shattered. A family friend spirits Dell across the Canadian border, in hopes of delivering him to a better life. There, Dell is taken in by Arthur Remlinger, an enigmatic American whose suave reserve masks a violent nature. Undone by the calamity of his parents' 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 to a harrowing and murderous collision with Remlinger.

A masterwork of haunting and spectacular vision from one of our greatest writers, Canada is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family. Told in spare elegant prose, resonant and luminous, it is destined to become a classic.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: HarperLuxe; Lgr edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780062128515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062128515
  • ASIN: 0062128515
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (760 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,178,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

300 of 341 people found the following review helpful By J. Houghton on July 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm halfway through "Canada" and was hoping a couple of glowing reviews would give me incentive to keep going. So far, I am stunned by the excess of this book. Not its prose, which is plain and unmusical -- but the sheer quantity of it. Does Ford's publisher pay him by the word? I have rarely encountered this degree of small- and large-scale repetition in a straight-ahead novel. Nor can I abide the constant use of elbow-in-the-ribs foreshadowing to "lure" the reader through a story that moves at the pace of a narcotized snail. Half the myriad brief chapters end with some form of, "Had I known then what I know now..."

The glowing reviews here are from people with different sensibilities, and it's wonderful that they enjoyed the experience as much as they did. But I'm outta here; life is too short.
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205 of 238 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Every review of Canada is going to begin the same way, with the stunning opening sentences of the novel. "First I'll tell you 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."

That's a bit more sensational than the average start of a serious literary work, but it telegraphs so much of what is to come. In fact, I'll give you a run-down of what those opening sentences illustrate:

* This novel is told from the point of view of a first-person narrator who speaks with a simple, clear voice.
* Despite the author's Pulitzer Prize-winning pedigree, this is a plot-driven novel bordering on a literary thriller.
* This is a coming-of-age tale.
* This novel is being told in reflection from some point in the future.

That's a fair amount of info to glean from three sentences!

The novel's narrator is 15-year-old Dell Parsons, one half of a set of fraternal twins. The other half is his sister, Berner, older by six minutes and always the more worldly of the two. The novel opens in the summer of 1960, and the family of four (with father, Bev and mother, Neeva) is living in Great Falls, Montana. The kids have had a fairly rootless upbringing, due to Bev's Air Force career and a lack of extended family connections.

Dell relates the family history, beginning with his parents' courtship and ill-advised marriage. "...they were no doubt simply wrong for each other and should never have married or done any of it, should've gone their separate ways after their first passionate encounter, no matter its outcome.
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72 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Bibliophage on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an odd read!!!

There are no surprises in this. You know from the opening sentence that is parents are going to rob a bank. As you read on you find out all before it happens. You know that his mother is going to commit suicide in jail. You know that there are going to be murders. You know in advance that his sister is going to run away. You know that he is going to Canada.

Maybe some books are like a river tumbling down from the mountains - face paced, gathering speed, sweeping all along on its rush to the sea. But this is a book like a lazy stretch of water on the coastal plain - meandering, backtracking, some parts stagnant, some parts eddying around obstacles, languid. I can't even say this narrative is a "slow reveal" because it is all there, teasing the reader to dip their toes in the water to find the depths of the narrative.

There were many times when I wanted to shake Dell and have him take a more active role in his own life. To me it wasn't a coming-of-age story because Dell never took this responsibility. It had a stronger flavour of we-are-who-we-are and the impact of parenting. Dell seemed to be just an observer ... too remote from his feelings to even be described as melancholy ... maybe pathologically innocent would be the closest.

It is calm, detailed, teasingly repetitive, bleak, engrossing and annoying!
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83 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This novel was test of endurance for a number of reasons, subject, particularity of detail and length. It is a depressing tale of a brother and sister in the 1960s, fraternal twins Dell and Berner, whose parents rob a bank in North Dakota, return home to their fifteen-year-old children in Montana and are soon arrested for their crime. The convoluted logic that leads to the robbery is accounted in the first half of the book in an emotionless narrative by Dell that describes two mismatched parents, too few years of relative domestic harmony culminating in Montana, where Bev Parsons becomes involved in an illegal scheme that leaves him in severe financial jeopardy. His solution- the only way out he believes- is a bank robbery in another state, his wife coerced into acting as Bev's partner in lieu of their son, Dell.

The prose is funereal, the first part of the novel delivering a now homeless Dell to Saskatchewan, Canada (his sister runs away to avoid the same fate) in the care of Arthur Remlinger, brother of Dell's mother's friend Mildred Remlinger. Helpless and hopeless, Dell is at the mercy of strangers in another country, one step ahead of Montana officials prepared to put the twins into the state's custody. Left to fend for himself with Remlinger's handyman in tiny Partreau, Charlie Quarters, Dell yearns for the attention of his enigmatic, albeit illegal guardian. From a two-room shack with no amenities to Arthur's hotel, the Leonard in the more populous Fort Royal, Dell is finally taken under his guardian's wing, only later discovering the man's unsavory past and activities that demands a reckoning with two strangers from Detroit looking for Remlinger.
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