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"First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later."
Then fifteen-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.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
First I'll tell you about the problem I had with this book from the very beginning, and then about the other problems that came later. But if you don't understand that first problem, the big problem, then nothing else will make much sense.
It starts with the first sentence, really. It's a great sentence, followed by many more great sentences. But they seem to me like sentences a fifteen year old boy might write. They do not sound like sentences a sixty-six year old man would write. At least, not one who spent forty years as a high school English teacher, like the character who is supposed to be telling the story.
So that's the first problem, the big problem that I could never really leave behind. At least, not in the way that most of the characters in the novel leave their problems behind. Like when they cross a border and leave their problems on the other side so they don't have to deal with them again. (They just have new problems.) But that's one of my problems with this book - I told you I had more. I don't know people who behave like these people, who can just walk away, who don't become angry when they are abused, who don't act out, strike back or do something to somebody when somebody hurts them. Especially not fifteen year old kids. These characters don't seem real to me. Oh some do I guess, but those are the ones whose problems came with them across the border and still follow them around.
Here's another problem (the last one I'm going to talk about). Nothing happens. For a long time anyway, at least in the first part until Richard Ford finally get to the bank robbery. Which he says he's going to tell us about in the first sentence but doesn't really, until a very long time after that.
You should know that I really liked the second part of the book. A lot more stuff happens quicker than it did before.
And that's all I have to say about it.
Intriguing... amazing detail that painted many pictures in the mind.
Definitely a "thinking" book...but also a work that requires empathy on the part of the reader.
Also, this is a "re-reader." Worthy of more than one experience.
Readers need not be in a hurry, because this novel is one that bears reflection during its journey.
A Great American Novel
Stunning, lyrical, finely wrought, and ultimately heartbreaking. This is truly one of the best novels of this or any other year. Evokes the best of Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy in its depth of setting, mood and characters.