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Canada Hardcover – 7 Jun 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st Edition edition (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747598606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747598602
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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)

A novel whose masterly poise partners a story of chaotic characters in flight from themselves (Liz Thomson Independent Books of the Year)

Demonstrats yet again Ford's incomparable talent as a storyteller (Alan Taylor Herald Books of the Year)

Book Description

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford's masterpiece

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Penelope Simpson on 28 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback
Better reviewers than I have given chapter and verse on this book. I can only tell you that I have come late in life to Richard Ford and feel as if I have struck oil.

Canada has made a greater impression on me than probably any book since We Need to Talk About Kevin, and yet they are so different. Canada doesn't shock; indeed I find it hard to explain what it does do other than to tell would-be readers that it has a hynoptic quality that means you never want it to end, even as you sit up nights devouring each page. The writing style is modest, the plot minimal, some of the characters a tad fantastic, but the sum is so much more than the total of the parts. I love this book, I love Richard Ford and I love the thought that I now have his entire back catalogue to look forward to. Life is sweet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JDM on 16 Sep 2014
Format: Paperback
This novel is a grand piece of work. It is true that It seems that not a lot happens, but in reality a lot does. There is a bank robbery, suicide, kidnapping and murders; but the way these are portrayed is very different to how most would expect - in a much slower and matter of fact way. In actuality the novel isn't about any of those things at all, it is about how those things affected the narrator, Dell Parsons. The narrator surmises how these events changed him and the circumstances of his family.

Truth be told it is a slow burner and I think it will go down as a classic in literary circles, but not so much in the common public eye. Ford is a brilliant writer, there is nobody who could deny how great his skill is in scribing a character's soul onto the page, not the outburst or the physical demonstration of that soul, but the actual internal feeling, behind and underneath the actions and reactions.

So why 4 stars not 5?
The book is over 500 pages and split into three parts (though the third and final part is about 25 pages give or take a few.) It is in a way divided right down the middle. We spend 250 pages getting to grips with the Parson's family condition and panic in dealing with the bank robbery - which to me is fine, I felt well and truly acquainted with them, so I was able to feel for them when their worlds fell apart. However in the second half of the book, (the part where more "stuff" actually happens) we are told of the mysterious Arthur Remlinger and how Dell was taught to deal with him when he had to. My problem was that as the reader, I wasn't at all nervous about the man, or really settled into the new surroundings (the second half is when Dell is taken to Canada) enough to care about what this man was about.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Phil X on 6 Feb 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Richard Ford spends 5 to 6 years crafting each of his books. He has time to create the language that he believes in. But is this language more for the writer than it is for the reader? While I can appreciate what has been written I do not necessarily enjoy reading it. My view is often that literary does not equate with good storytelling.
I found the first half of the book to be boring and essentially repetitive with the same thing is being described again and again. The odd look of his mother, the fact he loved his parents and the inability of his father to hold down a job.
In essence I see this as a story of individuals who are driven to stupidity by circumstances. They are no more noteworthy than you or I, yet they carry out actions that put them apart. Whereupon they are either unable or unwilling to return to their previous normality.
I think this is the message that Ford tries to convey: that crossing a broader changes nothing. His protagonists place themselves beyond the border, but they are the same people they have always been. Moving from the USA to Canada changes nothing. Ford’s border used as an analogy of “Crossing the line”. Is Dell, the protagonists an unreliable witness? I am never quite sure. I certainly feel that he has dreams, that he would lead a normal life, but given his upbringing and his character I never felt this would be the case.
This is obviously a book that divides opinion. I personally found it to be an exercise in endurance rather than enjoyment. However others think differently and for that reason I would encourage you to read it and make your own opinions.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE on 18 Jun 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Dell Parsons, a school teacher at the end of a long career,thinks back to 1960 when he was 15 and living in Great Falls, Montana,his parents robbed a bank and his life was changed utterly...

Richard Ford is at the top of his game. He has woven an extraordinary and emotionally draining novel about growing up,full of compellingly strange but real characters and absorbing incident, and written in a plain but vivid style in which a strong atmosphere of menace is evoked from telling detail.Ford creates a whole world for the reader - the wheat fields of Montana, the geese-filled Canadian skies, run down hotels and families split apart. Told in three distinct parts, yet completely integrated, the book is both clever and moving. And there is something optimistic there too perhaps.

Highly recommended- and for £4.99 a real bargain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Jordan on 6 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
The first sentences of the book tell us that it will be about the robbery the narrator's parents committed; then about the murders, which happened later (when the narrator, still 15, has left Great Falls, where he has been living with his parents, for the Canadian prairies, actually a small town and a smaller abandoned settlement, where he will not be taken into care).

But this is not, in the ordinary sense of the word, a crime novel. Rather it tells at some length what it is like to live in Great Falls and then in Partreau and Fort Royal in Canada in 1960. And about growing up. And about what turns some people to bank robbery and to murder. And about what a 15 year old - and a 65 year old looking back on it all - can make of it. The first part of the book covers the bank robbery. The second part covers the murders. The short and final third part contains some retrospective reflections and some rounding out of 'what happened next'.

So in no sense a page turner; but it does reward the reader for turning the pages for all that. And it's very impressive - not least, for me, for giving such a different sense of the world from the one that emerges in the 'Bascombe novels'. Strongly recommended - but only of course if you are looking for the kind of reflective and recreative pleasures that Ford is offering here.
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