"First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later."
When 15-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank, his sense of normal life is forever altered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives his life into before and after, a threshold that can never be uncrossed.
His parents' arrest and imprisonment mean a threatening and uncertain future for Dell and his twin sister, Berner. Willful and burning with resentment, Berner flees their home in Montana, abandoning her brother and her life. But Dell is not completely alone. A family friend intervenes, spiriting him across the Canadian border, in hopes of delivering him to a better life. There, afloat on the prairie of Saskatchewan, Dell is taken in by Arthur Remlinger, an enigmatic and charismatic American whose cool reserve masks a dark and violent nature.
Undone by the calamity of his parents' robbery and arrest, Dell struggles under the vast prairie sky to remake himself and define the adults he thought he knew. But his search for grace and peace only moves him nearer to a harrowing and murderous collision with Remlinger, an elemental force of darkness.
A true masterwork of haunting and spectacular vision from one of our greatest writers, Canada is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family. Told in spare, elegant prose, both resonant and luminous, it is destined to become a classic.
©2012 Richard Ford (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
There are only a very few books I've listened to twice in immediate succession. After I finished it the second time, I had to wait a couple of days before I could read any other book, in either print or sound This is not only one of the best audiobooks I've experienced; it's one of the best books I've ever read. I'll be buying a print copy to pass around my family.
I've always liked Richard Ford (especially The Lay of the Land), and this book was something of a surprise. You can see the connections with his other work, but this seems to have sprung all at once (a very focused and intense book) from some rather different place. I wish Ford a long and productive life! And I thank him for this book.
Also, an excellent reader.
The plot of Canada isn't all that interesting as it would be described--"Two childrens' lives are changed forever when their parents rob a bank". However, the writing is wonderful and the plot lifts off into something out-of-this world. The narrator is so good that you don't think about him twice. Sometimes a narrator soars with accents and voices, but Holter Graham simply reads this so well, that you can't imagine anyone else doing it. I enjoyed Canada so very much that I might listen to it a second time. I recommend it without reservation.
A journalist and a screenwriter for 20 years, now a playwright and a reader. I am an audible activist. I try to "enable" new listeners.
This was a very good book; fascinating to listen to. The story moved along exploring the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist, as he was trying to figure out what he WAS thinking and feeling, and how that related to what was actually happening. The narrator was first rate. Not many novels manage to investigate those wiggles in life which could move a person this way or that. I'd like to see the sister's story. Bravo. Thanks, guys.
I would have given up about a third of the way through if I was reading this book. The narration of the audio version made it possible to stick with it until the end. A fifteen year old boy is shipped off to the Canadian "outback" after his parents commit a crime in the USA.. Much of the first half of the novel deals with the lead up to the crime from the boy's point of view. Once in Canada in the second half, he tells us what happened to him there in the first six months or so in great detail. I found it all rather tedious going. Then the story skips ahead many years for a brief summing up. I have enjoyed other Richard Ford novels but this one, not so much.
Elderly (1932), retired university professor, degrees in engineering and economics.
Are some people simply “amoral,” neither moral nor immoral? Are there people who truly believe that their wants and needs justify any action, even murder, if it is required for satisfying their wants?
Teenage fraternal twins, Dell and his sister Berner have a father with this outlook. After the father is “pushed” out of his Air Force career, although with an honorable discharge, and is unable to hold jobs for which he considers himself highly qualified, he needs money. So, he robs a bank and a man is killed. He implicates his wife and both are sent to prison.
The twins are left with $500, fears of being sent to orphanages, very little time for decisions and their mother’s plan for them to be cared for by the brother of an old friend in Saskatchewan, Canada. Berner takes the money and runs away to live on her own. Dell is left to be sent to Canada. Ford addresses how seemingly single decisions can impact generations of lives.
Fifteen year-old Dell faces life in a strange, cold, hard environment, living in virtual solitude in an “overflow shack” among strangers. His saving grace is a decision he had made when he was younger. He loved school and learning. He wanted to learn everything in the world. He grows in maturity and in confidence as he learns to live within himself and his circumstances. He learns to adjust to his new life, where there is no school, and still hold on to his decisions to go to school and learn someday. And then he is confronted by an event beyond his control.
He is forced to make decisions that should not be faced by a fifteen year- old. He is drawn into the life of of another totally amoral man. Arthur simply does not think of his actions as being immoral or moral. He simply acts as required to get what he wants. No anger. No animosity. No hard feelings. No regrets. Same as leaving small animals as roadkill.
Richard Ford writes thought provoking books. This one also has suspense and interesting (for someone who shivers when the temp drops below 70 F)information about living north of even Montana.
It is a compelling read (listen) with an excellent narrator. I recommend it.
Aspiring paperback novelist, living a small town life with a big imagination
What seemed like a great premise was turned dull by the writer using words, so many unnecessary words, as filler and never really getting anywhere. You'd think bankrobbing parents and a murder would make for a great read but what this book needed was a great editor and someone to say "Get to the point, already!" I stuck with it through Part 2 because of the narrator, Holter Graham, who I'd just heard narrate a great book, "The Art of Fielding", but even Mr. Graham could not save this book - too bad, it sounded like a potentially great story.
Yes, The book is a great story. It all rings very true.
The pivotal scene where the boy witnesses the murder he has alluded to from the beginning of the book.
I felt like the story was being told by the person who lived it.
Dell. Dell is anyone. He is an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstance. When he reacts, I think that I would react that way too.
Richard Ford has been a favorite of mine - and many - for years, but this novel is the best he has ever written. A spare and thoughtful meditation on time, family, history, mystery and their effects on a young boy, the book has a wonderful narration with just the right tone to capture the spare and beautiful language Ford uses. Only once in the past decade have I gone out and bought a book after listening to it and this is the one. I want to go back and reread it - savor the words and the images. The audio version helps imagine the openness of the skies, solitary and reflective nature of the book's protagonist, and it speaks to all who have painful memories and unanswered questions in our lives. And that would be all of us. A simply wonderful book.
Plain spoken poetry
It has a way of gripping you once you give yourself over to its rhythm
I think the initial premise works well, and the exploration was compelling:: confused and disoriented child flung about and dismantled emotionally by the incongruities and reversals of fortune which are visited upon his parents, themselves victims of incompetent parenting. Add to this the flippant handing off of the child to an estranged brother in another country and subsequent culture shock and immersion into what for the average person would be intolerable circumstances. But Dell soldiers on, even managing to up his position on the back-country food chain.
The second part of the book - although these sections are not officially partitioned - evolves more into a bush country "guns and robbers" period piece, with all the conventionally colorful characters one is used to meeting in a border community. I find such people to be interesting from a visual standpoint, as if regarded in some sort of retro catalogue, but ultimately they are children, inwardly self-loathing, pathologically attached and grasping. This would all compel me to read faster and with more urgency, but the angle did not hold my interest, as Dell's introspection on all this just about disappears.
I like Holter Graham as a narrator. His prose readings are smooth, character-driven and as good and vivid as any performance you'd see on the big screen. The loud, anxious whining of characters in trouble in earlier narrations has disappeared, and that's all to the good.
I'll only give this a 4 out of 5, simply because of the disconnect between the first and second sections.
Definitely readable; I'd just like to see more of the protagonist's perspective.
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