First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then the murders, which happened later.
In 1956, Dell Parsons’ family came to a stop in Great Falls, Montana, the way many military families did following the war. His father, Bev, was a talkative, plank-shouldered man, an airman from Alabama with an optimistic and easy-scheming nature. Dell and his twin sister, Berner, could easily see why their mother might have been attracted to him. But their mother Neeva – from an educated, immigrant, Jewish family – was shy, artistic and alienated from their father’s small-town world of money scrapes and living on-the-fly. It was more bad instincts and bad luck that Dell’s parents decided to rob the bank. They weren’t reckless people.
In the days following the arrest, Dell is saved by a family friend before the authorities think to arrive. Driving across the Montana border into Saskatchewan his life hurtles towards the unknown, towards a hotel in a deserted town, towards the violent and enigmatic American Arthur Remlinger, and towards Canada itself – a landscape of rescue and abandonment. But as Dell discovers, in this new world of secrets and upheaval, he is not the only one whose own past lies on the other side of a border.
In Canada, Richard Ford has created a masterpiece. A visionary novel of vast landscapes, complex identities and fragile humanity. It questions the fine line between the normal and the extraordinary, and the moments that haunt our settled view of the world.
About the Author
Richard Ford was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1944. He has published seven novels and three collections of stories, including The Sportswriter, Independence Day, A Multitude of Sins and, most recently, The Lay of the Land. Independence Day was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the first time the same book had won both prizes.
Set in small-town America and the bleak landscape of Saskatchewan, a young boy’s orderly life is derailed by his feckless parents with disquieting consequences. A haunting and poignant novel.
Solid, slow-burning and singing with traditional Americana, Richard Ford’s Canada is a magnificent novel of family, the power of legacy and the permutations of life.
Fascinating psychological family drama as seen from a boy’s perspective: thrown into a foreign land he learns to follow his own ways. Although set in the USA of the 60s, the reader feels he is diving into a novel by Charles Dickens. Superb setting and finely developed characters form an absorbing work of social realism.
Ford explores the coming-of-age of Dell, a boy abandoned by his family, and the new life he creates in Canada with an unsavoury, radical caregiver, Arthur. The plot will immediately captivate readers, but the characters will stick with them long after the last page is turned.
A haunting and elemental novel about the cataclysm that undoes one teenage boy’s family.
A 15 year-old boy’s life takes an abrupt turn when his parents rob a bank and he is sent to Canada to stay with the mysterious relative of a family friend and his eccentric henchman. Ford’s narrator recalls these events fifty years later in simple, measured, unsentimental prose that soars despite, and because of, its restraint. Canada is philosophical, but not moralistic, and ultimately hopeful despite its relentless loneliness and despair.
15 year-old Dell Parsons is now growing up with a foster family in Saskatchewan, after his (and his twin sister’s) bank-robbing parents are caught and imprisoned in Montana. Many other borders are crossed in this young man’s odyssey between teen and 50 year old teacher, and Ford lets us in on his puzzling of family, fate, character and choices with a clarity and respect for the characters, the story and the reader.
The voice of Dell Parsons is remarkable in its sparseness and authenticity. It’s the kind of book where you read a sentence more than once (more than twice!) to revel in the language but you also want to keep moving forward to see what happens.