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“I’m not an autobiographical novelist, but if you grew up as I did in Jackson, Mississippi, you had to face life’s incongruities on an almost hourly basis,” Ford said. “You couldn’t escape the institution of racial separation, for example — it was starkly apparent whenever I looked across Greenwood Cemetery to the side where black people lived. We didn’t talk or hang out. We never even had fistfights. That situation fostered my need to relieve some of the friction, to reconcile the absurdity — and not just by talking about race, but by talking about all of life: women and men, parents and children. Mississippians have a lot of duff and complications to explain. I think that has inspired many writers from the state — Faulkner, Barry Hannah, Eudora Welty. We are imaginative explainers of things that don’t make sense.”
- Richard Ford from Nola.com
is reading Canada for February 28, 2013
“Nothing can be sole or whole that has not been rent.” W.B.Yeats
Pulitzer prize-winning author, Richard Ford does it again in his latest novel, Canada. Ford grabs our attention right way when fifteen year-old Dell Parson begins the story with this memorable opening. “First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed.Then about the murders which happened later.”
The crime committed by two seemingly ordinary people, the most unlikely Bonnie and Clyde, irrevocably disrupts their lives. This event and the ones that follow end Dell and his twin sister, Berner’s normal life in Great Falls, Montana for good. A 65 year-old Dell sole fully tells this tale, as a grown man reflecting back on his life trying to make sense of the past that tore his family apart.
His parents, as different as can be, shared the same world and two children. This shared world leaves, his father, a good ole southern boy and retired Air Force pilot, and his mother, a tiny Jewish women and fifth grade teacher in dire need of cash. Desperate thinking results in the decision to rob a bank.
Despite their differences, his parents seemed to love each other or at least accepted the fact they were bound together for good. His father, an optimist and mother not, decide to travel down this road together. Against her better judgment, his mother made the decision to drive away with her husband to rob a bank. Dell believes his mother could not accept the fact of her husband might be going away for good, and leaving her alone with her children “forever.”
Dell believes his mother thought of things as being imperfect, yet, still acceptable. “There was some terrible, irrational, cataclysmic force at work inside them—it’s more true that we wouldn’t have seemed at all irrational or cataclysmic if looked at from outer space…”
The novel is divided into three untitled parts: the past, the progress to the future and the present, or maybe the rent, the sole, and the whole. Ford leaves this for the reader to decide.
PBS NewsHour presents Ford's Latest Novel 'Canada'.