Canada by Richard Ford

"Children know normal better than anyone," says Dell Parsons, the narrator of Richard Ford's luminous and utterly forlorn new novel, and certainly Dell when he was a child knew far better than most what a normal life, especially a normal American life, is likely to turn out to be. The opening sentences of the book, which are bound to go straight into the collective literary memory, tell us what he, and we, are in for: "First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later."