BRICKBURN—A Novel

Chinatown’s Long Goodbye, In the Skin of a Lion

[Historical photographs of the Calgary Pressed Brick and Sandstone Company plant and the real Brickburn Town, Alberta, Canada; Glenbow Museum. Rights acquired.]

Calgary architect and philanthropist Livingston Alberti, estranged son of the great architect Albert Alberti, has a tumour in his head that won’t keep still. His time is up, they tell him, but he keeps his mouth shut. He wants his daughter Melonie back. He has to tell her this story, what he’s done, what they’ve all done to design and define this city, so Melonie can live her life clear and free. But Livingston has a problem: his lifelong friend, Detective Wood, names him the lead suspect in the Paskapoo Novella collapse, in the death of his father, Albert Alberti, and in the gruesome de-thumbing of a rival architect.

Who built this great city of Calgary?

Haunted by the Alberti legacy of Florence, the Alberti & Wyle families pitched historic sandstone and modernist glass against each other in the construction of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. The real story, evident in the cityscape, witnesses its own architectural tensions.

BRICKBURN is Melonie’s noir, multi-generational story: from Filippo Alberti and Herbert Wyle, stonemason and financier who fought to build Sandstone City (Calgary) after the great fire of 1886; to their two sons, Albert Alberti and Victor Wyle, who fought over its modernist deconstruction during the boom and bust of the 1970s and ‘80s; to Melonie’s father and aunt, Livingston and Aeolia, who fought over the fallout from this century of conflict. It is a story of passion and vanity, paternity and inheritance, invention and imitation. But in the end, it is a story of love and redemption and charity, as Livingston struggles before his own death to break the cycle of rivalry and revenge for his daughter.

Read the Full Synopsis

& the Prologue

"The sun never knew how great it was until it hit the side of a building." – Albert Kahn

"I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat, and a gun." – Raymond Chandler

"Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge." – Paul Gaugin

"Extreme distrust is as destructive to the understanding of myths as an excess of belief." – Rene Girard

"Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody." – Jane Jacobs