BRICKBURN – A Novel, in manuscript

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. His time is up, doctors tell him, but he keeps quiet. He wants his daughter Melonie back. He needs to tell her this story, what he and the Alberti family have done, how they got into this mess, so Melonie can live her life clear and free. But Livingston has another problem: his lifelong friend, Detective Wood, names him the prime suspect in the collapse of his father Albert’s architectural masterpiece, the Sandstone Novella, in which Albert’s body is allegedly found, 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 creation and destruction of Sandstone City.

BRICKBURN is Melonie’s multi-generational, architectural noir: 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 at its heart, it is a story of love and redemption and charity, as Livingston struggles before his own death to free his daughter from the century-long cycle of rivalry and revenge.

Read the Prologue

and the Synopsis

“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