New Books from UCalgary’s Writerly Friends and Faculty

A roadside tour and hiking guide of Alberta’s geological wonders and an assessment of energy efficient affordable housing have been added to the bookshelf
The Scenic Geology of Alberta: A Roadside Touring and Hiking Guide

The Scenic Geology of Alberta: A Roadside Touring and Hiking Guide (April 2021)

Dr. Dale Leckie, adjunct professor, Department of Geoscience

Volcanoes and glaciations long past are just part of this insiders’ guide to the well-travelled and not-so-well-travelled routes that Albertans, visitors and nature explorers will love. Allow geologist Dr. Dale Leckie, PhD, to guide you through the intriguing story of Alberta’s landscape evolution: from Waterton Lakes National Park to Dinosaur Provincial Park, into the Prairies, and across Alberta’s North. The scenic geological wonders can be seen from roadside pullouts and explored by hikes through the landscape for close-up encounters. With eye-catching illustrations and photographs, Leckie blends storytelling with science, augmented by local art and historical vignettes.

Energy Efficient Affordable Housing: Policy Design and Implementation in Canadian Cities

Energy Efficient Affordable Housing: Policy Design and Implementation in Canadian Cities (April 2021)

Dr. Sasha Tsenkova, professor, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

Written for researchers, policy-makers, city leaders, professionals and students, Energy Efficient Affordable Housing provides the first comparative assessment of the energy-efficiency retrofit programs in the social housing sector of Canadian cities. Dr. Sasha Tsenkova, PhD, explores important strategies for the provision of green and affordable housing while addressing climate-change imperatives and resilience issues.

Call Me Stan: A Tragedy in Three Millennia (Dec. 2021)  

Kevin Wilson, BMus’80  

The story of a man endlessly struggling to adjust as the world keeps changing around him, Call Me Stan is a biblical epic from the bleachers, a gender fluid operatic love quadrangle and a touching exploration of what it is to outlive everyone you love. Or almost everyone. Wilson, writing under the pseudonym K.R. Wilson, is the author of the award-winning debut novel An Idea About My Dead Uncle.

Unlocking (June 2021) 

Amy LeBlanc, BA’17, BEd’19  

In Snowton, Alta., secrets flourish like the crocuses in spring. When Louise Till lets herself into a neighbour’s home using a surreptitiously copied key, she discovers more than she ever wanted to know about her small town and herself. Lou must confront not only the lives of her neighbours, but the unspoken truths of her family and the doors within herself for which there are no keys. Told over the course of one long winter, Unlocking is a poignant and penetrating exploration of grief, community, family and the secrets we keep, even from ourselves. 

Iron Goddess of Mercy (Feb. 2021) 

Dr. Larissa Lai, PhD’06, associate professor, Department of English 

Inspired by the tumultuous history of Hong Kong, from the Japanese and British occupations to the ongoing pro-democracy protests, Iron Goddess of Mercy is a long poem that interrogates the complicated notion of identity, offering a prism through which the term “Asian” can be understood to make sense of a complex set of relations. Presented in 64 fragments to honour the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching, Iron Goddess of Mercy also borrows from haibun, a traditional Japanese form of travel writing in which each diary entry closes with a haiku.

Driven: The Secret Lives of Taxi Drivers (May 2021) 

Marcello Di Cintio, BA’97, BSc’97  

Occupying the space between public and private, a cab brings together people who might otherwise never have met — yet most of us sit in the back and stare at our phones. Nowhere else do people occupy such intimate quarters and share so little. In a series of interviews with drivers with backgrounds ranging from the Iraqi National Guard, to the Westboro Baptist Church, one recalling an arranged marriage that left one woman stranded in a foreign country with nothing but a suitcase, Driven seeks out those missed conversations, revealing the unknown stories that surround us. 

The River Troll: A Story About Love (Sept. 2021) 

Rich Théroux, BEd’03 

The River Troll, written and illustrated by Théroux, takes place late at night as our protagonist wanders a little and ponders quite a lot on a long walk along a river looking for a reason to keep on living. He meets up with the River Troll, a minotaur, a cheeky monkey and a few other all-night ghouls as he drifts along, searching for purpose. They all find it amazing that their friend can negotiate his way through the day posing as a teacher.  

On Borrowed Time: North America’s Next Big Quake (Sept. 2021) 

Gregor Craigie, BA’95 

For more than a decade, Gregor Craigie interviewed scientists, engineers and emergency planners about earthquakes, disaster response and resilience. He has also collected vivid first-hand accounts from people who have survived deadly earthquakes. On Borrowed Time dives headfirst into explaining the science behind “The Big One,” and asks what we can do now to prepare ourselves for events geologists say aren't a matter of if, but when. 

Icefields: Landmark Edition (Oct. 2021) 

Dr. Thomas Wharton, PhD’98 | Afterword by Dr. Suzette Mayr, BA’90, PhD, professor, Department of English 

First published in 1995, Thomas Wharton’s Icefields is an historical novel set in a mesmerizing literary landscape, one that is constantly being altered by the surging and retreating glacier and unpredictable weather. Here — where characters are pulled into deep chasms of ice as well as the stories and histories they tell one another — is a vivid, daring and crisply written book that reveals the human spirit, loss, myth and elusive truths. 

An Idea About My Dead Uncle (Sept. 2019) 

Kevin Wilson, BMus’80  

Winner of the inaugural Guernica Prize for unpublished manuscript, An Idea About My Dead Uncle (credited to K.R. Wilson) follows a young, mixed-race composer, raised without meaningful connections to his Chinese heritage and struggling with identity issues, as he travels to China in search of his long-missing uncle, an uncle who vanished in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square. Set partly in the University of Calgary’s Music department, An Idea About My Dead Uncle is about the identities we choose and the ones that are imposed on us. It is about dealing with pain through the artistic process. It is about the power of narrative. 

Hardwired: How Our Instincts to be Healthy are Making us Sick (Oct. 2020) 

Dr. Robert S. Barrett, PhD’10 | Co-Author: Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, MD, PhD   

Hardwire is about modern health — or lack thereof. Barrett, a PhD from the world of social science and Francescutti, an MD from the world of medicine — combine forces to bring this emerging human crisis to light. They argue that our deteriorating wellness is rapidly becoming a health emergency, and that much of these trends are rooted in the way our highly evolved hardwired brains and bodies deal with modern social change. Densely packed with fascinating facts and little-told stories, Barrett and Francescutti weave together real-life cases that describe how our ancient evolutionary drives are propelling us toward ill health and disease. 

Indigenous Identity Formation in Post-Secondary Institutions: I Found Myself in the Most Unlikely Place (Nov 2020) 

Dr. Barbara G. Barnes, PhD’10, instructor, Department of Political Science and Dr. Cora J. Voyageur, PhD, professor, Department of Sociology

Professors Barnes and Voyageur’s research explores how Indigenous students’ experiences fit with conventional and Indigenous identity-formation theories, while considering the impacts of colonization and the Indian Act. Based on the experiences of 60 self-declared Indigenous students from a variety of backgrounds at six post-secondary institutions in Western Canada, Barnes and Voyageur build an entirely new model of Indigenous identity formation in Canadian post-secondary institutions. 

Prime Ministers’ Wives: Those Who Endure (Jan 2021)

Lavona Fercho, BEd’79, DipEd’83

Beginning with Isabella Clark Macdonald and ending with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, this collection of 13 biographical sketches reveals the evolving role of the Canadian prime minister’s wife throughout the years. Frank and revealing, Prime Ministers’ Wives tells how each wife handled the extreme pressures of the position, and how they endured personal and public challenges, including, for some, marital issues such as infidelity, alcoholism and mental illness, as well as public verbal and physical assaults, death threats, and unrelenting scrutiny while promoting a societal recognition of women for equal status.

Sustainability Matters: Prospects for a Just Transition in Calgary, Canada’s Petro-City (Sept 2021)

Dr. Noel Keough, MEDes’89, PhD’05, with Dr. Geoff Ghitter, BSc’93, MSc’95, PhD’10

Sustainability Matters is the story of Calgary’s setbacks and successes on the path toward sustainability. Chronicling two decades of public conversations, political debate, urban policy and planning, and scholarly discovery, it is both a fascinating case study and an accessible introduction to the theory and practice of urban sustainability. A clear-eyed view of the struggles of turning knowledge into action, this book illuminates the places where theory and reality converge and presents an approach to municipal development, planning and governance that takes seriously the urgent need to address climate change and injustice.

Fall 2021

arch magazine

Arch is a publication for and about University of Calgary alumni, faculty, students, supporters and curious readers at large. 

This article was first published in the Fall/Winter 2021 issue.