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The Crack Magazine

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Richard Ford: Canada

Ford’s latest novel kicks off with one of the most arresting openings of recent times: “First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.” The narrator is Dell Parsons, speaking in the present, but reflecting on events that happened in the US and Canada in 1960. However, if you are the kind of reader that’s primed by such an opening salvo for a Bonnie and Clyde style romp around the badlands of Montana, then you’re in for a disappointment. This is a very matter-of-fact examination of ordinariness, with the robbery, and murders, shocking only in their mundanity. The novel tells the story of Dell, and his twin sister Berner, whose father, Bev, and, to a lesser extent, mother Neeva, fall foul of a cattle-rustling scam and must earn some quick cash. Needless to say, the aforementioned bank robbery goes hopelessly wrong and Dell finds himself in Canada, possibly embroiled in an even more perilous situation. This is a slow-burner that never really catches fire, but, I suspect, was never intended to; instead being a thoughtful meditation on loneliness and dislocation. 

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