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Canada Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 22, 2012
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“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 violencea rusting carnival, a rabbit caught in a coyote’s jawsgeography 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 craftsparsely 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
"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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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!
I personally didn't find Richard Ford's writing style to be very moving or interesting; other reviewers have mentioned the excessive descriptions. Unfortunately, for me, the descriptions in this book didn't shine but rather cast a dusty, meaningless listless haze over all the characters. And all the characters seem to be trapped in a line as described above. It feels like a novel written about the DMV. The main character waits and waits and finally manages to complete his errand, and is compelled to recount his experience in great detail. Other characters are violent and impatient and are removed and others think they can skip ahead and wind up behind. If life is like a line at the DMV, it expertly describes the impatience, the inevitability, and the inability to leave with the unbearable attention to detail.
However, I do NOT think that life is like a line at the DMV. I found that 400 pages of listening to someone stuck in line, describing in great detail the minutiae of waiting, was not inspiring or moving but incredibly depressing. If you don't like it at first, it doesn't get better.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
powerful book, great pacing, but challenging to get through since the end is known to each section.Published 25 days ago by Mary A. Lairon
No one who reads a lot of fiction could possibly deny Richard Ford's stunning clarity, steady rhythm and fierce attention to detail throughout this novel. Read morePublished 1 month ago by John C. Bergeron
I just couldn't finish it. It just droned on and on about the same thing.Published 1 month ago by Minnepeg
I recommend Canada by Richard Ford. The author is a Pulitzer winner who certainly shows his skill as a writer as he presents this story of an amazingly dysfunctional family--a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Eric J.
I lost interest as the story progressed . I don't know the purpose of the story. Try reading it for yourself!Published 1 month ago by bethela
I’ve read every book by Richard Ford. He’s a very talented writer (no doubt about this). However Canada was a huge disappointment. Read morePublished 2 months ago by pablo amigo
Richard Ford never lets me down. Very thought-provoking without losing one ounce of entertainment value.Published 2 months ago by QuibbleBooks