Toni Morrison, John Irving and now Richard Ford.
The month of May is turning into a catwalk of America’s greatest senior novelists. Ford’s new book is the best of the lot, though, a magnificent work of Montana gothic that confirms his position as one of the finest stylists and most humane storytellers in America.
He’s well known, of course, for his Frank Bascombe trilogy, whose second volume, “Independence Day,” won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize. As rich and durable as John Updike’s Rabbit quartet and Philip Roth’s Zuckerman series, the Bascombe novels are an insightful chronicle of middle-class life, infused with the economic and cultural anxieties of the late 20th century.
Now, Ford has left the suburbs of New Jersey two thousand miles away and delivered his most elegiac and profound book. “Canada” may strike recent fans as a departure, but it’s actually a return to the plains of his first celebrated story collection, “Rock Springs” (1987). Here in Great Falls, Mont., the author lays out a tale of one unexceptional family’s disintegration.