In 1956, Dell Parsons' family came to a stop in Great Falls, Montana. His father, Bev, was a talkative, plank-shouldered man, an airman from Alabama with an optimistic and easy-scheming nature. His 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 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 in this new world of secrets and upheaval, he is not the only one whose past lies on the other side of a border.
©2012 Richard Ford (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
Gripping prose. Richard Ford's writing is a wonder. He tells you what is going to happen and the impact it will have, before he details the sequence of events. Athought it is a tale foretold, you are compelled to listen because you are drawn into Dell's world, and you find yourself standing inside his shoes, experiencing his innocence falling away, and wishing at times, that it was in your power to make things turn out differently. The narration is vivid, and gratefully absent from the wisdom in Peter Marinker's voice is any trace of melodrama and sentimentality. A story perfectly told, and one that will stay with you for a long time.
Constantly searching for the perfect novel
I had never read anything by Richard Ford before but I was pleasantly surprised as soon as I pressed play on the first chapter. Without being preachy, this book shines a light on how easily normality can turn into abnormality, drawing a perfect portrait of America (although many Americans might disagree or disapprove). Its oddness is captured perfectly in the protagonists' parents, as the story provides a great character study. The narration is superb too. I'd recommend this book to people who have enjoyed novels such as 'Disgrace' by Coetzee, or 'Atonement' or even 'Slaughterhouse 5', even though the style here is linear and not nearly as complex. But it's a book that makes you think.
Loved this book greatly. Its slow but in a good way. The story is told well and you stop and thing about what is being said. Some good deep thinking going on and one liners we could do to remember. I liked the way it was told by the older man thought the eyes of him being a young lad and a much older man with in the story.
I bought this after reading an article in the Guardian which interviewed publishing editors and asking them which books they wish they had published but that went to other houses. Two of them mentioned Canada, which I thought was as good a recommendation as possible. It has the second best opening line that I have ever come across (Earthly Powers is still in first place) and demonstrates again how normal we think our childhood is whilst we are living it and it is only with hindsight when we can compare it to others' lives that we realise that none of us have a 'normal' up bringing.
After retiring from the air force, Bev tries to keep his shady meat deal going with the local Indians. Unfortunately, he was never a great businessman and he ends up in serious debt, the lives of his wife and twins threatened - his only answer, to rob a bank. Naturally this has dire repercussions and the family are never quite the same again.
Ford is a writer's writer. That this book is both immaculately conceived and written, whilst subtly moving and poised, almost goes without saying. But this is a master at the very peak of his powers. Illusion and craft are welded with an almost alarming ease that mirrors the Parson's family disintegration and the novels unstoppable progression. The discipline that made Frank Bascombe so complete over three novels, now allows Ford to write with a sure-footed level of perfection that is without pretension and pretty much incomparable in contemporary literature.
Such work could easily be undermined by a showy or melodramatic reading. After all, it is the very particular tone of the written narration that is a part of this book's meaning. But Peter Marinker is also at his best here, and his best is quite something. One wonders if he is Ford's voice of choice for these readings. His tone and diction are so 'right' that it is very hard to seperate them from the character of Dell Parsons after listening to this excellent recording.
"One of the books of the year"
Yes, it's beautifully narrated. The narrator has a beautiful voice which is soothing and natural. The book itself, in terms of its prose, is also beautiful.
It's an endearing, though stark, story of a very human family struggling with bad parental decisions and the triumph of hope over adversity. The prose descriptions are sensational.
It's his voice. It has a wonderful timbre and he is very natural - he makes the odd mistake which simply adds to the experience of listening to him
It has to be Dell. He is a credible character who wants to do the right thing but he is thwarted by adults in his world.
This book has wonderful prosaic descriptions of people, landscapes and life. A great book and one that brought me so much pleasure.
Characters were unlikable. Too structured, and frustratingly repetitive.
at least half the book. Not enough scenes about the scenery...very desolate descriptions...bit like the characters, but way overdone.
worst book Ive read in a while. - most of the bookclub members agreed too.
"Too much attention to detail; not enough to plot."
Canada is the story of the fate that befalls Dell, the protagonist, and his twin sister after their parents are imprisoned for robbery. The first half of this beautifully-written novel depicts, with increasing tension, the family's history until the parents' arrest; the latter half, in which the story is buried under description, illustrates Dell's life in Canada. This novel would have been much stronger if, in the second half of the book, Mr. Ford, as he did in the first half, had made the landscape a minor character and developed a compelling plot.
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