"First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then the murders, which happened later."
When fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank, his sense of a happy, knowable life is forever shattered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives his life across 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 suave 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 and loved. But his search for grace and peace only moves him nearer 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, resonant and luminous, it is destined to become a classic.
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.
Our parents were the least likely two people in the world to rob a bank. They weren't strange people, not obviously criminals. No one would've thought they were destined to end up the way they did. They were just regular - although, of course, that kind of thinking became null and void the moment they did rob a bank.
My father, Bev Parsons, was a country boy born in 1923, in Marengo County, Alabama, and came out of high school in 1939, burning to be in the Army Air Corps - the branch that became the Air Force. He went in at Demopolis, trained at Randolph, near San Antonio, wanted to be a fighter pilot, but lacked the aptitude and so ...
Canada is a big book in every sense of the word - set against a vast, stark landscape, dealing with heavy metaphors. It is a beautifully crafted novel; yet its languid pace, especially in the first half of the book, will unfortunately lose many readers. In the end, Canada emerges as a wonderful, deeply contemplative look at some of the most essential questions of all our lives: How do you deal with loss? Are there second acts in life? Exactly how fluid are boundaries?
(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).
Full Review (1088 words).
The vast prairies of Saskatchewan, where one can easily be "unimaginably bored" are the perfect setting for Richard Ford's Canada. Bordering Montana and North Dakota, it is one of two Canadian provinces that is completely landlocked (Alberta is the other one) and has no geographical features distinguishing its boundaries. It is over 250,000 square miles (over 650,000 square kilometers) - almost the size of Texas. The province's name has its origins in the Plains Indian word, kisiskatchewan, meaning "the river that flows swiftly"; a reference to the Saskatchewan River.
Interestingly, the city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan province is named after the saskatoon berry, which is often used by the province's aboriginal people in making pemmican...
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Like the work of Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Annie Proulx, Battleborn represents a near-perfect confluence of sensibility and setting, and the introduction of an exceptionally powerful and original literary voice.
Suffused with Munro's clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these tales about departures and beginnings, accidents and dangers, and outgoings and homecomings both imagined and real, paint a radiant, indelible portrait of how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.
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