Canada

Canada

3.0 97
by Richard Ford
     
 

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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

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Overview

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

The New York Times Book Review
Canada is blessed with two essential strengths in equal measure—a mesmerizing story driven by authentic and fully realized characters, and a prose style so accomplished it is tempting to read each sentence two or three times before being pulled to the next…Dell's voice here—nonjudgmental, insightful, laconic and slightly melancholy but at ease with the language he's using to plumb his memory—is the central strength of this remarkable novel. Its finely wrought sentences alone are worth the price of admission, but they are also in constant service to the story of the Parsons family…Canada is a tale of what happens when we cross certain lines and can never go back. It is an examination of the redemptive power of articulated memory, and it is a masterwork by one of our finest writers working at the top of his form.
—Andre Dubus III
The New York Times
Mr. Ford has fashioned an engaging, ruminative voice for Dell. It's less self-conscious than that of the author's best-known hero, Frank Bascombe…but almost as elastic, capable of capturing the vernacular of the everyday, while addressing the big philosophical questions of choice and fate. It's a voice capable of conjuring both the soporific routines of daily life in 1960 in Great Falls, before Dell's parents turn to crime, and the harrowing, Dickensian experiences he is subjected to after their arrest.
—Michiko Kakutani
The Washington Post
…a magnificent work of Montana gothic that confirms [Ford's] position as one of the finest stylists and most humane storytellers in America…his most elegiac and profound book…Always a careful craftsman, Ford has polished the plainspoken lines of Canada to an arresting sheen. He's working somewhere between Marilynne Robinson (without the theology) and Cormac McCarthy (without the gore). The wisdom he offers throughout these pages can be heard in the hushed silence that follows this harrowing tale.
—Ron Charles
Publishers Weekly
The first novel in six years from Pulitzer Prize winner (for Independence Day) Ford is a tragic rural farrago composed of two awkwardly joined halves. In the late 1950s, in Great Falls, Mont., teenage twins Dell and Berner Parson have different concerns: Berner’s is whether to run away with her boyfriend; Dell’s is chess and beekeeping. Their comically mismatched parents—rakish, smalltime schemer Bev and brooding, Jewish Neeva—have problems beyond a joyless union. Bev’s stolen beef scheme goes awry, leaving him owing his Cree Indian accomplices. In desperation he robs a bank, roping his wife into the crime, and Dell, peering back much later, chronicles every aspect of the intricate but misguided plan, which left his parent incarcerated and he and Berner alone. Berner runs away, and Dell ends up in the care of a shady family friend at a hunting lodge in Canada, living an even more barren and lonely existence than he had in Great Falls. The book’s first half has the makings of a succinct rural tragedy, but Dell’s inquisition of the past is so deliberate that it eventually moves from poignant to played out. The Canadian section has a mythic strangeness, but adds little, as Dell remains a passive witness to the foolhardy actions of adults. A book from Ford is always an event and his prose is assured and textured, but the whole is not heavily significant. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (June)
Men’s Journal
“[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.”
O: the Oprah Magazine
“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.”
Men's Journal
"[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."
the Oprah Magazine O
“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.”
Colm Toibin
“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.”
The New Yorker
“Pure vocal grace, quiet humor, precise and calm observation.”
USA Today
“A triumph of voice.... The writing... is spare, but heartbreaking.”
Washington Post
“[Canada]confirms his position as one of the finest stylists and most humane storytellers in America… his most elegiac and profound book…”
Wall Street Journal
“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.”
Daily Beast
“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.”
Entertainment Weekly
“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.”
Vogue
“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.”
Christian Science Monitor
“One of the most memorably heartbreaking novels of the year.”
Men’s Journal
“[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.”
The Oregonian (Portland)
“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.”
St. Paul Pioneer Press
“A must-read. . . . Canada reminds us why Ford is considered one of this country’s most distinguished writers.”
Austin American-Statesman
“[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.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“[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.”
Library Journal
Since winning the Pulitzer Prize for his 1995 novel, Independence Day, Ford has cultivated a reputation for writing lucid and compelling prose. Here, he lives up to that reputation. The story unfolds around 15-year-old Dell Parsons, whose world collapses when his parents are jailed for a bank robbery, his twin sister flees, and he is transported across the border by a family friend to an obscure town in Canada. With detailed descriptions of place, Ford connects Dell's feelings of abandonment with the equally desolate setting of a remote Canadian landscape. The novel is pervaded by a profound sense of loss—of connectedness, of familiarity, of family—set against a profound sense of discovery. By piecing together the random events in his life, Dell transcends the borders within himself to find a philosophy of life that is both fluid and cohesive. VERDICT Segmented into three parts, the narrative slowly builds into a gripping commentary on life's biggest question: Why are we here? Ford's latest work successfully expands our understanding of and sympathy for humankind.—Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH
Kirkus Reviews
A great American novel by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author. This is Ford's first novel since concluding the Frank Bascombe trilogy, which began with The Sportswriter (1986), peaked with the prize-winning Independence Day (1995) and concluded with The Lay of the Land (2006). That series was for Ford what the Rabbit novels were for Updike, making this ambitious return to long-form fiction seem like something of a fresh start, but also a thematic culmination. Despite its title, the novel is as essentially all-American as Independence Day. Typically for Ford, the focus is as much on the perspective (and limitations) of its protagonist as it is on the issues that the narrative addresses. The first-person narrator is Dell Parsons, a 15-year-old living in Montana with his twin sister when their parents--perhaps inexplicably, perhaps inevitably--commit an ill-conceived bank robbery. Before becoming wards of the state, the more willful sister runs away with her boyfriend, while Dell is taken across the border to Canada, where he will establish a new life for himself after crossing another border, from innocent bystander to reluctant complicity. The first half of the novel takes place in Montana and the second in Canada, but the entire narrative is Dell's reflection, 50 years later, on the eve of his retirement as a teacher. As he ruminates on character and destiny, and ponders "how close evil is to the normal goings-on that have nothing to do with evil," he also mediates between his innocence as an uncommonly naïve teenager and whatever wisdom he has gleaned through decades of experience. Dell's perspective may well be singular and skewed, but it's articulate without being particularly perceptive or reflective. And it's the only one we have. In a particularly illuminating parenthetical aside, he confesses, "I was experiencing great confusion about what was happening, having had no experience like this in my life. I should not be faulted for not understanding what I saw." At the start of the novel's coda, when Dell explains that he teaches his students "books that to me seem secretly about my young life," he begins the list with The Heart of Darkness and The Great Gatsby. Such comparisons seem well-earned.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062096807
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/22/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
7,126
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Richard Ford is the author of the Bascombe novels—The Sportswriter, Independence Day (the first novel to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award), The Lay of the Land, and, most recently, Let Me Be Frank With You—as well as the New York Times bestselling novel Canada and the short story collections Rock Springs and A Multitude of Sins, which both contain many widely anthologized stories. He lives in Boothbay, Maine, with his wife, Kristina Ford.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 16, 1944
Place of Birth:
Jackson, Mississippi
Education:
B.A., Michigan State University, 1966; M.F.A., University of California, Irvine, 1970

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