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CANADA, Richard Ford.
I am a big Richard Ford fan. Loved his trilogy about Frank Bascombe beginning with THE SPORTS WRITER. Love his short stories.
CANADA may be his most brilliant work. It is certainly a sharp turn north. The North American experience, the life on the western plains, has never seemed more eloquent.
Dell and Berner Parsons are fraternal twins being raised in Montana. When things get tight, their parents rob a bank. You know this is coming from the first lines of the novel.
"First I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later. The robbery is the more important part, since it served to set my and my sister's lives on the courses they eventually followed."
And it is this event that drives the first half of the book if not all of it. You may think Dell's parents are kindred souls, but in fact their marriage is awful in the way marriages born of bad decisions were in 1960. But Dell's parents, in a severe economic crisis, rob a bank and come home to almost immediate imprisonment.
Dell is sent to stay with a remote Canadian relative in Saskatchewan and his sister takes off for virtually the remainder of the novel. He is put in the care of Arthur Remlinger, a remote, strange man who basically ignores him with the idea he is teaching him survival skills.
The final part of the book hooks the siblings up fifty years later, but again it is not a happy reunion. These two were doomed from the moment of their birth.
This is a sad book, a strange one. But the experience of Dell is one we want to hear. The writing is exquisite: rough-hewed at times, velvety at others. I highly recommend it to readers who like good writing and are patient with plot.
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