"On the page Stenson is like Frank Sinatra in a stetson--smooth and pitch perfect. And if details give literature its staying power, Stenson is writing for the ages." --Caroline Adderson, The Globe and Mail
The heart of this moving story belongs to Tom Ryder--a man whose expectations for the future and assumptions about his own strength and power are persistently and devastatingly undermined by the arrival of a sour gas plant on the border of his southern Alberta farm in the early 1960s. The emissions from the plant poison not only his livestock but the relationships he has with his family, most especially with his wife, Ella. The family is left without viable legal recource against the plant, and Tom must watch his farm dwindle away, his sense of himself dwindling away with it.
The novel moves into the present with the story of Tom's son, Bill, who reacts to his father's disappointments by rising through the managerial ranks of an oil company in Fort McMurray, hiding from his guilt in the local casino. Bill pushes himself towards a crisis in conscience through a relationship he has with a Native woman whose community is threatened by the actions of his company.
About the author
Fred Stenson has written sixteen books of fiction and non-fiction. Thing Feigned or Imagined: The Craft in Fiction is based on his experience as a writer of fiction and mentor . His cycle of historical novels, The Trade, Lightning and The Great Karoo have won and been nominated for many awards. The Trade (2000) and Lightning (2003) both won the Grant MacEwan Author’s Prize. The Trade also won the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction and the Edmonton Book Prize, and was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Award and short-listed for the Giller Prize. The Great Karoo was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 2008. Stenson has been writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick, Grant MacEwan College, Calgary Public Library, the community of Whistler, and many other places. He has directed the Wired Writing Studio at The Banff Centre since 2001 and mentored in its writing studios prior to that. He has been the wit columnist at Alberta Views Magazine for the entire fifteen-year life of the publication. He has also written over 150 films and videos.
• "Intriguing, fast-paced and a delight. . . . Who by Fire is the biography of Alberta. The story we all live today." --Calgary Herald
• "[Stenson] has done Canadian literature a service by producing the long-awaited oilsands novel. . . . He portrays a corporate world in which oil companies have become better at speaking in soothing tones and issuing mild mea culpas, all the while speeding up their efforts to pump every last drop. And though he holds out some hope for personal healing from psychological wounds, he's clear that neither the oil companies nor the Alberta government are likely to change course." --Winnipeg Free Press