Katherine's Reviews > Canada

Canada by Richard Ford
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Apr 02, 2012

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Read from March 16 to 30, 2012

Overall I really enjoyed reading Canada and I'd definitely rate it a high 3.
As a few reviewers have pointed out, the first part of the novel is strikingly slow paced. Having revealed in the first paragraph a bank robbery has taken place, Ford takes his time leading up to that event and Dell's reiterative narration as he hashes over what has happened also requires some patience. I haven't read any of Ford's other books but he has been recommended to me. His reputation, as well as his fantastically clean and lucid prose, encouraged me to persist; however, I do wonder if I would have if I had been given an advance copy of a such a novel by an unknown author. In the end I'm very grateful I did keep reading. Once I reached the second part of the novel (in which the story moves much more briskly and the outcome of which, although there is some foreshadowing, is less anticipated) the choice of such a languid beginning made more sense and enhanced the impact and effect of what followed.
Wherever Dell finds himself during the novel he is always caught between the possibilities of staying or leaving that place without having much say in the matter. Through his attempts to reconcile what has happened to him and decipher the motivations of the adults around him whose actions effect the course of his life, Canada explores the question of how people come to be where they are, both literally and figuratively. Because of Dell's uncertain position in the places he finds himself he has a heightened sense of his surroundings. Through Dell's eyes, Ford masterfully creates a sense of place, first evoking small town USA in Great Falls where Dell lives with his parents and sister before the robbery, and then the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada, where Dell is sent to avoid being taken into state care. The descriptions of the Canadian landscape are particularly vivid and austerely beautiful.
I'm looking forward to reading some of Ford's earlier work.
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03/28/2012 page 203
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