After seeing Richard Ford at the Portland Public Library last week, I couldn't wait to settle down with Canada. Besides, I've been on a short-story kick, not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was eager to emerse myself in a novel. Then I came down with an awful cold on Thursday, which I see as the Universe's way of telling me to sit down and read a book. So I did.
Canada is a first-person account of fifteen-year-old Dell Parson's, starting with the robbery his parents commit, and delving into the events which occur as a direct or indirect result of that. It's told by Dell, fifty years after teh evets occur, which is an interesting choice, and gives the novel a quietness versus the racous immediacy it might have had otherwise. Still, even though you know things turn out okay for young Dell (he's alive and literate, after all), as a reader, you want to know how it all came to be. This is no small task, but Richard Ford is a master, even though, as someone at the reading in Portland said to me afterward, he seems like he could be anyone's friend, the kind of guy you'd like to get a beer with.
Canada, like The Art of Fielding, has the feel of an old-fashioned novel. And, done well, there's nothing like an old-fashioned novel. Like a plain donut, some things are what they are because they're good. Canada is done better than most.
I'm still sick, and my couch is calling me. Next, John Irving's new novel. In some ways, I'm grateful for this cold. (I'd be staining my deck otherwise)