Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Canada by Richard Ford.....

My apologies, but I interrupt my look back into my skydiving days with a review (sort of) of the most recent book I've read.

Image from

I don't remember what made me want to read this book. Possibly I saw it mentioned in some magazine or the other, but I wouldn't have read a complete review of it. (It's against my personal philosophy to read a review before I read a book. And I hesitate to read a review after I've read a book, because too often I find myself thinking, "Hmph. Didn't get that out of it AT ALL." And I don't need additional reminders that I'm not as smart as I think I am.)

Whatever compelled me to read this book, though, it was important enough that I was willing to PAY for the digital version of it as opposed to A) checking it out of a virtual library; or B) waiting until the price came down. In fact, I PRE-ordered it and then forgot about it until I saw a charge on my credit card statement that I didn't understand. Sigh.

This book is the story of a 15-year-old boy, Dell Parsons, and his twin sister, Berner (isn't THAT a cool name?) whose parents rob a North Dakota bank. Not only do they rob the bank, they do it in a very inexpert manner, getting caught immediately and throwing their children's future lives into chaos and uncertainty. The story is mostly about Dell and how he copes after his parents are imprisoned and his sister runs away.

One of the things I like about this book is the way Ford drops an important piece of information rather unexpectedly at a time when it doesn't fit. For example, he has Dell, the narrator, mention rather offhandedly and informally that his mother committed suicide in prison, but it is pages and pages and pages (or clicks and clicks and clicks) later that it is mentioned again. These tidbits aren't exactly spoilers; I guess in an odd way they have the opposite effect, to make you want to keep reading.

I couldn't quite put my finger on how I would characterize Ford's writing throughout most of the book. His sentence structure and word choice were challenging but not frustrating. Here are a couple of examples. Keep in mind, I chose these not for the meaning they impart, but for the structure.

There is much to learn here from the game of chess, whose individual engagements are all part of one long engagement seeking a condition not of adversity or conflict or defeat or even victory, but of the harmony underlying all.

I learned that things made only of words and thoughts can become physical acts.

It finally occurred to me when I was almost finished with the book that the style (at least to me) is very similar to Faulkner. Except that Ford didn't create sentences that went on for pages and pages on end, thank you very much for that. His descriptions are thorough - very, very, very, very thorough. Similar to one of my favorite writers, Anne Rivers Siddons, Ford has a knack for making a story's setting become almost one of the characters.

I haven't read anything else by Ford, but apparently he has written a series of novels including The Sportswriter and its sequels, Independence Day - the first novel to win the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award (SURPRISE!!) - and The Lay of the Land. I may try to read that series, but I need to give it some time first. My brain is tired.

1 comment:

joyce said...

Check out my comments about CANADA on my blog,
I agree the prose is very much like Faulkner but I found the book to be a very ponderous read..still haven't finished it yet...