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3.51  ·  Rating details ·  26,211 ratings  ·  3,633 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, 420 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Ecco
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Martha I have read all the Ford books that began with The Sportswriter and ended with Let Me Be Frank with You. I find his style appealing and the introspect…moreI have read all the Ford books that began with The Sportswriter and ended with Let Me Be Frank with You. I find his style appealing and the introspection of his character Frank is what I really like, as well as the representation of the twentieth (and twenty-first) century.(less)

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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  26,211 ratings  ·  3,633 reviews

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Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
”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 d
Jun 19, 2012 rated it liked it
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 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. But this is a book like a lazy stretch of water on the coasta
Steven Godin
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I am starting to feel sorry for those who reside in backwater towns across either America or Canada. There always seem to be an unjust stigma attached for no fault of their own as to how they go about leading their lives. And Richard Ford has done what countless other writers have done before him with the following...

There is a dangerous individual who lives in a trailer outside of town. The blinds are generally always down, the interior looks like a grenade went off, it's surrounded by junk, an
Avatar Czar
Jun 04, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
B the BookAddict
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”.
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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
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 teaches 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 i
Jun 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 financial
Violet wells
Things happen when people are not where they belong.
Reading this I did know moments of enervating toil – a couple of times the narrative seemed to hike off the beaten track; or perhaps circle repeatedly around the houses would be a better metaphor. They say editors dare not question the cartography of established writers – Murakami’s 19Q4 being the best example – and you definitely have the sense here that were this a novel by a debut author a landscape gardener would have been called in. Howeve
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
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
Canada by Richard Ford is about two unidentical twins whose parents in 1960 rob a bank. We are told right at the start murders will also occur. The twins are fifteen, one a boy the other a girl. The boy, Dell, tells us of that summer and the events that soon follow. He makes it very clear that this is his story and had his parents or his sister told of the events the story told would not be the same. The book is very much a character study, both of the twins and their parents. The story is prima ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book grabs you with its first paragraph, and, despite its slow moving and carefully considered narrative, keeps you reading all the way until the very last page. Here’s that opening paragraph:

“First, I’ll tell 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. Nothing would make complete sense without that being told first.
Robert Stewart
Jun 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Firstly, I didn't finish reading this book. Secondly, I usually don't comment on/review 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
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is a dreamlike quality to this story. Ford has captured much of the fragility of humans choosing to focus primarily on the lost little boy. As a child he is exposed to the unusual guidelines of his parents, the loneliness and fear of being exiled to live among strangers, and the abuse that swirls around him. There is a quiet beauty that is nearly concealed as the story unfolds. These come in the form of kind words spoken, patient deeds, and sincere thoughts. The boy learns and grows. He ad ...more
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: usa, favourites
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
Cherisa B
May 26, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2022, americas
The way that a bridge can symbolize the connector of disparate sides, a border can stand for the divisor. With his flight over the border to Canada, Dell, the 15 year old protagonist and narrator, divides the two parts of his life, the first when he was part of a family and a fraternal twin to his sister Berner, and second, after his mother's plans kept him from entering Montana's child welfare system and made him a refugee over the border. Dell is always exploring lines or boundaries, what sepa ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rough Riding in Saskatchewan
4.4 stars

Fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons is forced to stand on his own after his parents are arrested for a bank robbery near Great Falls, Montana. An older Dell tells his story of the aftermath of his parents' arrests and convictions, when his twin sister Berner left him to a family friend who took him to live with another American, a mysterious and charming Arthur Remlinger (whose wickedness lurks beneath), on the plains of Saskatchewan, Canada.

The 2012 novel looks a
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
I'll admit I started this book with prejudice. I love Canada. I mostly love his writing which I find to be consistently gorgeous, in a quiet, beautifully-cadenced way. His stories are not the sort that usually attract me-men in America, searching for their identities. But (possibly as a result of the beauty of the prose), I am always drawn in and touched by Ford's men. He renders their malaise precisely and gently.

In Canada, Ford's most recent work, the "man" is a 15 year old boy, Dell Parsons.
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Roger Brunyate
What Am I Missing?

This highly-praised book by a Pulitzer Prizewinner left me largely indifferent and rather bored. Essentially, it is a simple coming of age story told in a direct and deliberately artless style, but stretched out to over 400 pages, in a novel that has really only two events in its entire length.

We learn about those in the first two sentences, already much quoted, and deservedly so, because they could rank among the great openings in literature. "First, I'll tell about the robber
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
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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,
Ben Hallman
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A grudging 5 stars for a story that was brilliantly told, even though I didn't really enjoy how it made me feel. You may find that it isn't clear for most of the book how far in time the narrator is from the events he is describing, I found myself sucked down into the whirlpool of tragedies that in a few months irrevocably change Dell and his sister's lives.

Ford is a master at voice, and he manages to give us both the Dell of the moment and the Dell of later in a way that we don't question their
Elyse Walters
As a few other reviews said before me: --This book could have used a little better editing --however, I still enjoyed much about the book.

The two characters which I found most interesting were Dell and Berner (twin brother and sister) --
What kept me reading was to see what direction each of their lives would take after their parents robed a bank. (but much was a little too predictable)

This book reminds me of another book I read a few years ago ---which I enjoyed much more. (still one of those 'f
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Richard Ford, born February 16, 1944 in Jackson, Mississippi, is an American novelist and short story writer. His best-known works are the novel The Sportswriter and its sequels, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land and Let Me Be Frank With You, and the short story collection Rock Springs, which contains several widely anthologized stories. Comparisons have been drawn between Ford's work and the ...more

Articles featuring this book

The Pulitzer-winning author heads north to the Saskatchewan prairie for his new novel, Canada, a coming-of-age tale about a teen left behind by his...
18 likes · 25 comments
“Things you did. Things you never did. Things you dreamed. After a long time they run together.” 50 likes
“You're only good if you can do bad and decide not to.” 45 likes
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