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Canada [Kindle Edition]

Richard Ford
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (727 customer reviews)

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Kindle Price: $11.79
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Book Description

The only writer ever to win both the Pulitzer Prize and Pen/Faulkner Award for a single novel (Independence Day) Richard Ford follows the completion of his acclaimed Bascombe trilogy with Canada. After a five-year hiatus, an undisputed American master delivers a haunting and elemental novel about the cataclysm that undoes one teenage boy’s family, and the stark and unforgiving landscape in which he attempts to find grace.

A powerful and unforgettable tale of the violence lurking at the heart of the world, Richard Ford’s Canada will resonate long and loud for readers of stark and sweeping novels of American life, from the novels of Cheever and Carver to the works of Philip Roth, Charles Frazier, Richard Russo, and Jonathan Franzen.

Editorial Reviews


A vast, magnificent canvas. This is one of the first great novels of the 21st century -- john Banville Sunday Telegraph Astonishing ... Reviewers will be quick to proclaim that Richard Ford has written a great American novel, another masterpiece, and he most emphatically has. Canada is his finest work to date ... A powerfully human and profound novel that makes one sigh, shudder and weep. Here is greatness. No doubt about it Eileen Battersby, Irish Times Ford is possessed of a writer's greatest gifts ... Pure vocal grace, quiet humor, precise and calm observation ... Ford's language is of the cracked, open spaces and their corresponding places within Lorrie Moore, New Yorker One of the wonderful things about Richard Ford is that he can make people who do outlandish things, such as rob banks, seem almost normal ... Ford is superb at suspense ... This is a book about dysfunctional lives in a North America that existed half a century ago - it sometimes has the feel of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. What a backdrop - you feel as if anything might happen here ... This is a story about adolescence, about crime, about broken families, and about trying to escape. It's very engaging, and in the end, quite sad William Leith, Evening Standard His most elegiac and profound book yet ... Marilynne Robinson (without the theology) and Cormac McCarthy (without the gore) Washington Post A real king returns ... a story, and a vision, as sweeping as its landscapes Boyd Tonkin, Independent A rather brilliant realisation of our particular voice ... a brilliant piece of work Pat Kane on BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review His books will save you GQ A scrupulously rendered coming-of-age story Anthony Cummins, Sunday Telegraph The strength of the book is Ford's examination of flawed fatherhood, of the failures that push Dell into an uneasy maturity, one that allows him to achieve what remains the modest but profound goal of Ford's fiction: simply, to make a life ... his coda is as precise and measured as anything he has conjured before. The end, like a piece of origami, could fold right into the beginning of Ford's greatest novel, The Sportswriter. The sombre and gorgeous final two thirds of Canada rest next to Ford's best fiction Craig Taylor, The Times A true master of the modern American novel Independent Exceptional American novel ... Breathtaking ... its unique shape disconcerts and enchants the reader equally -- phillip Hensher Spectator Richard Ford's arresting new novel is - on one level - an intriguing variation on this American Childhood Gets Derailed theme ... as this highly original voice begins to take hold, you find yourself drawn into Ford's uneasy, ever-skewed, narrative world. It's a world which speaks volumes about the reclusiveness and violence at the heart of the American experience - which, like the solitary terrain, engulfs those who try to find a sense of self or meaning amid its hard-scrabble vacuity. Audacious in its narrative technique (observes Ford's frequent use of short chapters, his varied pacing, the way he never rushes any plot points, and allows the story to unfold in its own enigmatic way), Canada both grips and haunts Douglas Kennedy, Independent As opening lines go, they're corkers. The rest of the novel is quieter than you'd imagine but it amply fulfils their promise ... The result is prose so sonorous in its melancholy insightfulness that you'll want to linger over each sentence. Meanwhile, the story itself - a tale of what happens when uncrossable lines are crossed - will have you turning its pages ever faster Daily Mail Although its subjects are disarray and bewilderment, there is barely a dishevelled sentence in this awesomely calm book ... Canada is soaked in a subtle sadness, then, born of the foreknowledge of error and loss, and reading it isn't always easy. But we persist despite ourselves, because of the beckoning fluency of Ford's prose and the painful sharpness of his insights ... Ford has always been a clarifier, slowly making lucid the lines of the everyday. Canada is perhaps his most transparent novel yet: shorn of tricks, sparse and expansive as the plains on which it is set ... By looking "straight at things", Ford has written another novel about the fine lines that separate the humdrum and the calamitous, and about those schisms of existence that can be anticipated only in retrospect Sunday Times ***** A superb stand-alone novel from Richard Ford Metro Ford really excels in his virtuoso command of narrative suspense ... each part of Canada is superb in its own way ... [Ford is] a serious artist New York Review of Books

From the Back Cover

"First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later."

Then fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank, his sense of normal life is forever altered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives his life into before and after, a threshold that can never be uncrossed.

His parents' 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 a better life. There, afloat on the prairie of Saskatchewan, Dell is taken in by Arthur Remlinger, an enigmatic and charismatic American whose cool reserve masks 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. But his search for grace and peace only moves him nearer to a harrowing and murderous collision with Remlinger, an elemental force of darkness.

A true 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, both resonant and luminous, it is destined to become a classic.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1562 KB
  • Print Length: 529 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408831007
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006FO3ERQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,576 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
292 of 330 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Throw me a line! 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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201 of 232 people found the following review helpful
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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68 of 78 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The antithesis of a thriller! 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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81 of 99 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, lengthy descriptions for an intriguing story.
Ford's writing is beautiful ... his descriptions of scenes in Canada and the US are stunning but they go on and on. I loved the premiss of this story ... very intriguing. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Andy dignan
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A good book, but not a great book. The plot had some interesting twists and unexpected events.
Published 10 days ago by Ann Beranek
3.0 out of 5 stars This book is like 2 stories in one
This book is like 2 stories in one, the first being the telling of how a mother and father came to attempt an ill fated bank robbery. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Leslie Ermert
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong novel, but not Ford's best.
Richard Ford is a great author, but I found this particular novel to be slow moving. The entire first part is dedicated to a single event, and even though that event... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Avid Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars A book about the dynamics of family relationships.
Highly recommend this book. It is well written and deals with extremely interesting subject matter. The characters are well developed and the book is a real page turner.
Published 20 days ago by Ada Levin
5.0 out of 5 stars ... all likelihood will go down as one of the best books of 2012...
Richard Ford's "Canada" is a book that in all likelihood will go down as one of the best books of 2012 without question. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Paul L.
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
I will write a review when I wake up from the nap I had when reading the book
Published 23 days ago by Shelly Berman
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good writing. Kind of a dull, drawn-out plot.
Published 23 days ago by Kenneth S. Leader
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
I loved this book. At first I got impatient with the pace and put off by so much foreshadowing. I wanted like most readers, to move on, find out what came next, but later as I... Read more
Published 26 days ago by CherylY
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite Ford
Certainly well written and at times thoughtful, Ford's narrator reflects back on how his childhood was affected by the activities of his parents. Read more
Published 1 month ago by novelcommentary
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