Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford is one of the most astonishing and creative writers working today. What makes his work so appealing is the seemingly effortless and straightforward way in which he writes. He rarely uses words over two syllables; his syntax is direct and succinct, and nary a compound sentence will you ever find.
In Canada, Ford's latest, he tells the story of Dell and his twin sister, Berner, children growing up in the vacuum and void of Montana. Their parents rob a bank, and from here the tale unfolds. From the opening paragraphs of
the first chapter through the final words in Chapter 69, the author creates a world full of complex emotions and simple characters. Here is how he opens the novel:
"First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later. The robbery is the more important part, since it served to set my and my sister's lives on the courses they eventually followed. Nothing would make complete sense without that being told first.
"Our parents were the least likely two people in the world to rob a bank. Thbey weren't strange people, not obviously criminals. No one would've thought they were destined to end up the way they did. They were just regular - although, of courdse, that kind of thinking became null and void the moment they did rob a bank."
Beautifully constructed writing full of promise of many things to come.
Ford's characters are not complicated, but they think about complicated things. Why do we hang out with people we know are bad? Why are we here?
What is love?
This is a profoundly amazing book, and you will be drawn to every word. If Richard Ford isn't the best writer out there today, he's in the top two. But you won't hear him uttering that appraisal. In fact, he professes he hasn't read a review of his books since 1990.
"I have lived long enough to get several bad reviews," he admits, "and I don't want to take that kind of needless pain upon myself. There is absolutely good luck involved. There are writers who are much better than I am who are writing away right now who have not been as lucky as I've been."
That seems highly unlikely, but just to hear the writer utter the words makes you love him even more.