I love Canada – yes, the country, the people, the food. And now, the book, Canada.
I came across the book at Costco, and picked it up, thinking it was a new reference book about our country. But no, it’s fiction. And although I like to promote Canadian writers, I am making an exception here for Richard Ford, the American Pulitzer-prize winning novelist.
And Canada grabbed me from the opening lines:
First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.
It’s hard to ignore a start like that. It builds a tension. And it’s a technique that Ford uses often in the book, setting you up for what will happen.
In a little while, my father went out the front door, carrying his canvas bag with the pistol inside, and got in his car. He never told me what his business was or even said good-bye…In any case, I knew it was important or he wouldn’t be leaving in a rush. It felt to me that something was in our life now that had never been in it before.
It is a thoughful, provoking read, that left me with a sense of dread in places, not wanting to read on, but always the pull to the page, needing to know what happened. I couldn’t not read on.
Richard Ford is a master. His descriptive writing is so powerful that you feel as if you are right there. And since the book is told from a 15-year-old boy’s perspective, you also have an instinctive pull to him, wanting to protect him.
After the parents’ imprisonment, Dell, the boy, is driven up to go to live in Canada with a family friend’s brother. He is sitting in the car quietly, calling up his inner braveness.
My throat had already begun tightening, and this tightness screwed right down in to my chest and made a pain, and I suddenly couldn’t get enough air, even though we were giong sixty, and hot wheat fragrance was blasting in the windows. I felt an urge just to shoulder open my door and fling myself onto the rushing pavement…the airlessness in my chest ached the way it does when you drink too-cold water and feel paralyzed.
Canada is not a book to be taken lightly. It is slow and deliberate, and it made me feel cold sometimes, even if I was drinking a cup of hot tea.
With every chapter, you snuggle in a little bit more, sometimes uncomfortably, but always you are rewarded with incredibly rich writing that sometimes makes you shiver. Not the kind you get reading Fifty Shades of Grey, but the kind that John Gillespie Magee Jr. surely felt as he wrote the epic line in High Flight, about slipping the surly bonds of earth. It makes me want to jump up and down on a sofa, the way Tom Cruise did a long time ago.
Yep, that’s how powerful this novel is. Richard Ford has crafted a masterpiece that resonates long after the last page is turned.
Leave me a comment and you could win one of five copies of Canada that we are giving away.