Canada Hardcover – May 11 2012
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“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)
"Ford captures the intricacies of human beings better than just about any other writer alive." --The Globe and Mail
"One of the great American fiction novelists of his generation." --The Washington Post Book World
"Ford is one of the greatest writers of our time, from any country and in any language, whose finely crafted words can pierce the heart like an arrow." --Calgary Herald
"One of his generation's most eloquent voices." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
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Top Customer Reviews
Many reviews indicate that the first part of the book was the best with the last part (Dell in Saskatchewan) not keeping pace. But I felt the second part was the best of the two. The story leading up to his parents robbing the bank dragged in places but I couldn't put down the part in Saskatchewan. I often wondered if the second part could have stood on its own - it was that good. How the two parts tie together becomes clear at the end as Dell shares his thoughts about how events in our life come together to have - or not have - meaning and significance - which I think is the point of the book.
I highly recommend Canada, especially if you are from the Prairies. I couldn't stop thinking about this book for days after finishing it.
For starters, the opening is a grabber: "First, I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed, Then about the murders, which happened later. The robbery is the mist important part..." These are the words of Dell Parsons now a 66-year-old high school English teacher remembering 1960 when his life along with his twin sister's were thrown into turmoil.
Their parents were an unlikely couple. Father, Bev, was outgoing, garrulous, optimistic, given to a series of poor judgments. Their mother, Neeva, was Jewish, an academician, whose hopes of becoming a poet were thwarted by an early marriage and the birth of twins very soon thereafter. Bev had been in the Air Force and the family now lived in Great Falls, Montana where Dell hoped to attend high school The teenagers had never had friends as Neeva hadn't welcomed people into any of their homes and disdainfully viewed the other Air Force families.
Now, finding his Air Force pension and Neeva's school teaching salary inadequate Bev sets out to earn extra money, first selling cars then used cars and finally becoming in a meat scam with local Indians. When that goes awry he and Neeva decide to rob a bank. When they are captured and imprisoned Dell and sister Berner are left high and dry. Berner opts to run away to California and Dell is smuggled across the border into Canada by a friend of his mother.Read more ›
Del is forced to find a new life in the second part of the novel in Canada. There he’s left in the care of Arthur, a distant relative who’s also moved to Canada to begin a new life. Many reviews complain that the second half of Mr. Ford’s book was not nearly as good as the first. I would have to disagree. Except for some excess description of a small Saskatchewan town, I very much enjoyed following the story of Del’s life in his new country. Unlike the first part where we are told from the beginning about his parent’s botched attempt at robbery, we have no idea what is going to happen. Arthur seems a bit strange but we don’t know why. We know that Del becomes a teacher however, when he arrives in the small and now extinct, southern Saskatchewan town, he isn’t even allowed to attend school. “Canada” is about the country, but more importantly, it symbolizes new beginnings and if they’re even possible. For Mr. Ford, a writer of complex, troubled stories, the answer would be an obvious no. The past will haunt us always.
Where the book really gets good and begins; is the end of part 1 and starting part 2. Then the books just takes off and is very hard to put down. There are so many nuggets of thought provoking sections from all of the characters including ones you would least expect like Charley. "Can non punishment become your life" " is deception in all forms carried out by everyone" Yes the book is largely set in Saskatchewan but the book is not a story of Canada or Saskatchewan at all. It's a great fiction book with very intense characters. Every character from Del and Berner to Arthur and Bev and Neeva were so real and full I kept thinking this book was a true story and not a novel. It's like Richard Ford personally knew these people he wrote about. By the time I got to the last few pages I savoured it slowly because it was heavy but also because I kept wanting the story to go on and on. I can see why it won a Pulitzer. I really enjoyed this book.
Most recent customer reviews
Canada ... the title intrigued me (I am Canadian) and the depth of the characters - especially Dell, the narrator. Read morePublished 6 months ago by SB11
Haunting. Not exactly the "Canada" I've written about in my books of fiction, but all the more interesting being from an American observer.Published 7 months ago by Frank Watt
You do not want to miss a single word when reading Richard Ford. I loved the characterization and slow, steady build up to events that were sometimes shocking, sometimes... Read morePublished 12 months ago by poprich
Expected much better story which was quite boring throughout the middle. Beginning really aroused my interest and the end kept me going. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Laraine Taylor
The descriptions and prose are great but I am not an English major so I found this a tough slough at times.Published 15 months ago by derek hennig
The best part of this book is that a large portion of it was set in Canada. Other than that, I'd describe it as a monotone, even when something did happen, it was related in such... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Heather Pearson
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. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Lorina Stephens
The strange thing about Canada is that the book is not about Canada at all. The family story told by the son some 50 years after the events which derailed a perfectly ordinary... Read morePublished on Oct. 19 2013 by Laurent Beaulieu
The biggest problem from my perspective is that this novel is not really about anything that I can see. Read morePublished on Sept. 4 2013 by Rodge