Canada, by Richard Ford
About to retire from teaching, Dell Parsons looks back 50 years and recalls his parents, their doomed union and the bank robbery that changed everything when he was only 15, passive and accepting, unlike his edgy fraternal twin sister, Berner, who ran away. Richard Ford’s languorous, slow-moving, rhythmic prose majestically serves this astonishingly heartfelt narrative. Dell’s father, Bev, a barely educated optimist, possessed Southern charm and little else, while his wife, Neeva Kamper, the only child of Polish immigrants, was a tiny, intense, quasi-bohemian, non-practising Jewish college graduate with literary pretensions to match her attitude of thwarted superiority. Ford, as ever exceptional on human behaviour, makes inspired use of the inept crime. Dell ponders the craziness of it all, ever mulling over his memories. The narrative is repetitive, to brilliant effect. Like a dog with a bone, Dell circles the facts, constantly probing, assessing, and debating with himself. Fiction seldom comes better than this American masterwork.