Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Canada” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  15,740 ratings  ·  2,752 reviews
"First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later."

When 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 threaten
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Ecco (first published January 1st 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Canada, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Canada

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jeffrey Keeten
”The world doesn’t usually think about bank robbers as having children--though plenty must. But the children’s story--which mine and my sister’s is--is ours to weigh and apportion and judge as we see it. Years later in college, I read that the great critic Ruskin wrote that composition is the arrangement of unequal things. Which means it’s for the composer to determine what’s equal to what, and what matters more and what can be set to the side of life’s hurtling passage onward.”

 photo BonnieandClyde_zps0ab3591d.jpg
What do you do w
What an odd read!!!
The antithesis of a thriller!

There are no surprises in this. You know from the opening sentence that his parents are going to rob a bank. You know that his mother is going to commit suicide in jail. You know that there are going to be murders. You know in advance that his sister is going to run away. You know that he is going to Canada.

Maybe some books are like a river tumbling down from the mountains - fast paced, gathering speed, sweeping all along on its rush to the sea.
Yaaawn.. I must say it is very well written and I could picture all the boring details and bleak scenes.. which seemed to go by at an excruciating, belabored pace. It was like watching a train-wreck in super-duper slow motion, frame-by-frame: Two train-wrecks to be more precise, for this poor little slob of a main character.

This is one of those books that may actually translate into one of those acclaimed "films".. which, if it does, I will then have wished that I had waited for the film to com
switterbug (Betsey)
"First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later." That's the first two lines of the book.

Beyond the vast ocean of Saskatchewanian wheat fields, burrowed with the detritus of past lives and half-lives, a fifteen-year-old boy is marooned on a forgotten prairie land with fugitives and transients, like a scrap of driftwood or a windblown, bone-cracked bottle. His surname is a mystery for twelve chapters; it's released, finally, like a swift, so
Sometimes I feel that the publishing world has a sickly fear of boring the reader. In the YA world, which is the world I inhabit as a writer, the pressure is never-ending for the novel to clip along at a lively pace less you lose your young hyper-active reader. It's almost as if we must do all we can to give TV and Video Games and Instant Messaging a good run for their money. So it is good to read authors who are willing to give their readers a different kind of pleasure - one that requires a sh ...more
I waited patiently for something to happen. I was tired of hearing how short his Jewish mother was & how tall his Alabama father was & how he had a twin sister... It finally did happen around 160+ pages, but fizzeled out again. Came to, near the end alittle.
I thought it was a real downer...
Had to convince myself to stick to it w/ the hope that the story might ingnite into something interesting. It was heavy with describing things, which the author did over and over.
The parents, having fi
So here was a list of things I was thinking about to mock and/or reference when reviewing Canada:

1) O Canada
2) Hockey
3) Canadian bacon - The meat
4) Canadian Bacon - The movie
5) Mounties (e.g. Dudley Do-Right, Sergeant Preston, the guy from Due South)
6) This
7) America’s 51st state
8) Wolverine
9) Alpha Flight
10) Celine Dion
11) The McKenzie brothers
12) Brandon’s beard

Ah, but sadly, this book depressed me too much to dig into this treasure trove of material so I guess I’ll just have to stick to revie
Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Something is bothering me about this book, but I'm not sure what it is. In the beginning, I found the narratorial tic of Dell's constantly telling us that he'd already said something a bit much, though that tic faded as the novel went on. And though this book is long, I feel there's something missing. As Dell says later, there is no need to look for hidden or opposite meanings in his story, which is well-told and compelling in Ford's reliable prose, but perhaps 'meaning' is exactly what I feel I ...more
Well written and compelling tale of a 15 year old boy, Dell, coming to terms with the sudden disintegration of his family in northern Montana and his resilience during a period of being under the control of strangers with little concern for his situation or fate. Though that sounds like the story of a large population of kids from broken families who get placed into foster care, in this case Dell’s life gets disrupted due to his relatively ordinary parents committing a bank robbery. Instead of f ...more
I feel honored when a book teaches me something new about reading, when a writer has the confidence in his story to pull no punches with his writing, trusting in the reader’s intelligence to absorb a story without telling her what she should feel.

What Richard Ford teaches me with the exquisite Canada is patience. He taches me to pull back, hold on, allow the plot to reel out while keeping a closer eye on the characters and their actions and reactions. What he offers in return for my patience is
Robert Stewart
Firstly, I didn't finish reading this book. Secondly, I usually don't comment/review on the things I've read, but I was asked by someone on Facebook why I stopped reading Canada. This was my reply: I've never been a Ford fan and took a risk on this one based on all the hype here in Canada, which I can only now assume was based solely on the title. I thought the narrative was poorly executed and the characters just collections of words. Ford failed at turning those collections of words into the i ...more
Who could possibly resist this opening?

First I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.

Well, I certainly couldn't, nor any one of the four hundred odd pages that followed. I did manage to do an hour's teaching, as well as process three pounds of sour cherries into something in jars that might decide to be jam, but only in order to allow myself to luxuriate in this warm bath of words without the (negligible) pangs of guilt that might follow th
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into ... their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
--F. Scott Fitzgerald

(FROM MY BLOG) My tastes in books are peculiar and inconsistent. I don't generally read "best sellers," including those blockbusters that appear on the front page of the New York Times book section. Not out of some misplaced form of snobbishne
This felt soooo long to me. The length seems to take what could have been an interesting story and render it thin and lugubrious. I can't decide if this is really one novella or two related short stories but, in any event, there is the sense throughout that it is excessive by a few hundred pages. From what I have read, it is the writing that was supposed to have kept me engaged and willing to linger. For whatever reason that just didn't happen (as it did in a similar book, "Plainsong", which was ...more
Years ago, I read Independence Day, which was Richard Ford's second "Frank Bascombe" novel. Then there was a third, but I didn't read it, because I thought I should first go back and read the first one. And now there is a fourth one -- and I am falling farther and farther behind.

So, when I saw Canada on the bargain book shelf and knowing that it didn't have anything to do with Frank Bascombe, I decided that perhaps I would read it. I opened it and read the two opening sentences: "First, I'll tel
CANADA is – and I don’t say this very often – a contemporary masterpiece: tautly-drawn and introspective characters, elegant themes, terse plotting and symmetrical structure. It deserves to win Richard Ford another Pulitzer.

The oft-quoted first lines (First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later) set the stage for the duality that is showcased heavily throughout CANADA: the robberies, then the murder (reflecting two deceptions)…the past,
Asked about character development in an interview with the Paris Review, Richard Ford says: "Today I think of characters—actual and literary characters— as being rather unfixed. I think of them as changeable, provisional, unpredictable, decidedly unwhole. Partly this owes to the act of writing characters and of succeeding somewhat in making them seem believable and morally provoking. As I write them they are provisional, changeable, and so forth, right on through and beyond the process of being ...more
B the BookAddict
Sep 06, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who love a seriously good fiction
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: my library's 'who to read next'
In Canada, Richard Ford has written a long and contemplative story. The book sleeve calls it “a visionary novel of vast landscapes, complex identities and fragile humanity; which questions the fine line between the normal and the extraordinary, and the moments that haunt our settled view of the world.” A more true description would be hard to find.

The opening sentences of the story are “First, I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later”.
Ford has a way of narrating ordinary lives with extraordinary voice, but this did not resonate for me like his short stories or Independence Day. The premise intrigued, however, and I remained more engaged than not, especially since I get how somebody could rationalize robbing a bank and happen to know somebody (we were in a book group together)whose unemployed fiance robbed one (with an unloaded gun and almost sweetly, but he got caught and remains in prison).

The narrator is a 60-something man
Webster Bull
Richard Ford's new novel, Canada, is a disappointment from the first paragraph on. No, from before the first paragraph. My disappointment was set up by a NY Times review by Andre Dubus III. The author of "House of Sand and Fog" gushed over Ford's "extraordinary" novel and his "linguistic mastery." I had always wanted to read something by Ford, a New Englander like Andre and me. So I tapped my Kindle and began reading.

As Dubus notes, Ford begins the book by practically begging you to turn its pag
The beauty and power of Canada snuck up on me. Hard to believe since my expectations were sky high going in. Ford takes his time in this novel and I didn't immediately warm up to the rhythm of his first-person narrative. Dell Parson's is looking back on events that happened when he was 15-year old boy and he tells you immediately that there will be a bank robbery and some murders in his story. It felt like the robbery was a long time coming.

Ford gives us magnificent descriptions of 1960 Great F
I attempted to read this novel twice before actually finishing it, and I only finished it because I was joining a book group that was discussing it. The critics love this book; I thoroughly disliked it. It is the story of Dell Parsons, whose family is the definition of dysfunctional. When he is 15, his parents rob a bank. They are caught and jailed, which leaves Dell and his twin sister Berner alone; before the authorities come for them, Berner runs away and Dell is taken to Canada by a friend o ...more
Nancy Oakes
If you want the long review, you can click here.

On the shorter end of things, this book is simply stellar. Absolutely. It is not a thriller, nor is it a novel of crime fiction, so don't even go there in your thinking or you'll end up being disappointed like so many readers who thought this book was something it's not. It's more a book about lines and borders crossed, about boundaries, about family, about how certain things in our lives direct us in ways we may never have considered, about try
Ben Hallman
Richard Ford’s Canada serves as one of the more frustrating novels I’ve come across. Well-written and full of beautiful, descriptive prose, it also provides an astounding amount of verbiage for very little action. Ultimately, the novel proves that, no matter what tale you’re trying to convey, a milquetoast narrator will always ruin the mood.

I find it odd that, with the many different colorful, memorable characters that come and go in Canada, Ford writes from the viewpoint of the least interestin
Jeff Lacy

No surprise from Ford that this is a robust story, masterly told, with a round and empathetic protagonist in fifteen year old Dell Parsons who survives after his parents rob a bank and his twin sister runs away. Disappointed with Ford's prior novels, yet an admirer of his short stories, this novel did not disappoint. It included the insight of his collection "A Multitude of Sins," as well as the richness of the writing found in "Rock Springs." This is a finely styled and disciplinely crafted wo
This book opens with two very provocative sentences, "First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later". But if you think you will be reading a pot boiler, a thriller, you will be wrong. (It is a page turner though.) It is the story of a tragedy, of a rupture in the normal fabric of life. Read it for the writing. The prose is lean and spare and beautiful. The sense of place evokes the endless expanse of the prairie in the midwest of the U.S. ...more
‘Canadá’, la nueva novela de Richard Ford tiene como protagonista a Dell Parsons, un profesor jubilado que reside en Canadá. Dell, desde la madurez, decide narrar los sucesos que le acontecieron en Great Falls, Montana, en 1960, cuando tenía quince años, que le sirvieron para perder la inocencia y enfrentarse a la vida. Estos sucesos están marcados sobre todo por un hecho: el atraco que cometieron sus padres y que les llevo a prisión. El análisis psicológico del protagonista, de sus padres y de ...more
Amy Warrick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Murphy
First, I'll tell about the faults Ford committed. Then about the improvements, which happened later. Trying to imitate the highly acclaimed first 2 sentences of Richard Ford's novel which read, "First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later." For me this didn't work. The big reveal of those 2 sentences dammed up the narrative flow and slowed it to a trickle. A large pool of non-event was created in which nothing happened. The reader slowly ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Canadas Coasts 1 7 Sep 15, 2014 10:49AM  
Canadas Coasts 1 3 Sep 15, 2014 10:48AM  
why is this so highly rated? 10 178 Mar 04, 2014 08:37AM  
Mansfield Public ...: Canada by Richard Ford 2 16 Sep 01, 2013 05:48AM  
HarperCollins Can...: Canada 3 169 Jan 25, 2013 05:21PM  
  • The O'Briens
  • Fobbit
  • San Miguel
  • Gods Without Men
  • Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
  • Telegraph Avenue
  • By Blood
  • Almost Never
  • Train Dreams
  • Arcadia
  • The Odds: A Love Story
  • Fallen Land
  • Cold Spring Harbour
  • Thuggin In Miami (The Family Is Made : Part 1)
  • The Forgetting Tree
  • The Heart Broke In
  • A Hologram for the King
  • May We Be Forgiven
Richard Ford is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. His best-known works are the novel The Sportswriter and its sequels, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land, and the short story collection Rock Springs, which contains several widely anthologized stories.
For more info see
More about Richard Ford...
Independence Day The Sportswriter Rock Springs The Lay of the Land A Multitude of Sins

Share This Book

“Things you did. Things you never did. Things you dreamed. After a long time they run together.” 26 likes
“You're only good if you can do bad and decide not to.” 20 likes
More quotes…