Theo Tait writes:

Canada is a return to the bleaker style and settings of Ford’s early books: his 1990 novel Wildlife was also set in Great Falls in 1960, and also featured a teenage narrator observing traumatic events, as do several of the stories in Rock Springs (1987). (Ford grew up in Mississippi, but felt his home state was haunted by too many powerful literary presences; he has called Great Falls a ‘triggering town’, a place ‘where you could set just about any story’.) Many of the motifs and incidents in the short stories – particularly the idea of an adolescent damaged by careless adults – are echoed in the new book, and the opening of his 1987 story ‘Optimists’ could almost be an earlier draft of Canada’s: ‘All of this that I am about to tell happened when I was only 15 years old, in 1959, the year my parents were divorced, the year when my father killed a man and went to prison for it, the year I left home and school, told a lie about my age to fool the army, and then did not come back.’

(LRB 5 July 2012)

Other Titles of Interest