“First I’ll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later …”Richard Ford, however, is regarded as a literary author. He’s also a Pulitzer Prize winner. How would he take it if I talked about CANADA as a crime - and thus a genre - novel?
The answer is that he wasn’t best pleased, although a longer and more accurate answer is that while Richard Ford clearly does not consider CANADA a crime novel, he was gracious and thoughtful in rejecting my suggestion that it was. He’s a very charming guy, actually.
Anyway, herewith be the interview, which was first published in the Irish Examiner:
IT’S not every day a Pulitzer Prize-winning author makes you coffee. Then again, Richard Ford confounds expectations at every turn.For the rest, clickety-click here …
Hailed as one of the greatest writers of his generation, Ford has a patrician, almost forbiddingly severe appearance, not unlike that of the actor Christopher Plummer.
In person, in the private rooms overlooking the tranquil inner sanctum of the quad at Trinity College, where Ford has been a visiting professor teaching on the masters programme in creative writing for the last five years, he is warmly hospitable, bustling around making coffee and apologising, in an accent with a charming Southern twang, for the fact that the coffee comes in “little old lady cups”.
Indeed, so polite and friendly is this literary titan that it almost feels as if I’m insulting him by suggesting that his latest novel, CANADA, is the longest, most elegant noir novel I’ve ever read.
Literary novelists don’t usually like to be described as crime authors. But how else to describe a book that begins: “First I’ll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later …”?
“It was certainly deliberate to try to emphasise the incidents in the book,” he says. “Which is to say, a bank robbery, a kidnapping, an abandonment and then a murder. I didn’t want to write a standard, meditative literary novel, although it is meditative in some ways, but I really did want to write a novel full of incident. Noir? I don’t know about that. But insofar as noir books do advertise that quality of fatalism, in that they often forecast what’s going to happen — yeah, I wanted to do that.”