The most interesting character to me so far in Richard Ford’s new novel, Canada, is Neeva Parsons, the Jewish mother who has an unlikely marriage to a handsome good ol’ boy from Alabama.
She’s an intellectual who writes poems and journals every day. At one time, she had dreams of marrying a college professor and writing poetry and living the life of an academic. Instead, she got pregnant and married Bev Parsons. His job with the Air Force takes them from town to town in Texas, Ohio, Michigan and Montana, places she looks down at with scorn as anti-intellectual nowhere towns.
A key question at the point that she and Bev rob a bank is, “Why?” Why did she go along with the bank robbery? Why not just take the kids and go live with her parents?
I think what Ford is hitting on here is a definition of a mid-life crisis that is universal.
I would define a mid-life crisis as a (usually painful) transition from dreaming about what you’re going to be when you grow up to realizing what it is you have become.
And that can often make people do crazy things.