Earlier this summer, though, I read Richard Ford’s latest novel, “Canada,” and recommend it highly. I had read and admired two of his earlier works — “The Sportswriter” and “Independence Day,” the latter of which won a Pulitzer Prize. So when the New York Times Book Review gave “Canada” a rave (by Andre Dubus III, no less), I decided to dive in.
“Canada” is divided into two parts — before and after, if you will. The first part is as brilliant and perfect a piece of writing as I’ve read in a long time. Ford plays with and blows apart the notion of suspense with his first two sentences:
First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.
All of part one is given over to Ford’s telling us a little bit more, then a little more, then a little more. Everything is foreshadowed. There are no surprises. And it is brilliant.
Part two, in which the murders take place, is just slightly uneven, at least in comparison to the taut, seamless quality of part one. But without part two, Ford wouldn’t have had a story. And at its best, it is very good indeed.