09-27-2007 09:27 PM
Lynn Stegner and Because a Fire Was in My Head
Kate Riley is not the sort of heroine we meet in most American novels. Self-centered, shape-shifting, driven from one man to another and one city to the next, she is all too real—but not at all the loyal and steady homebody of idealized womanhood. When we first encounter her, Kate (or Katherine, or Kate of the Prairie, or Katrina) is about to undergo exploratory brain surgery for a condition she herself has fabricated. Sobered by the gravity of the procedure, she commences a journey of memory that takes us back to the Saskatchewan village where she grew up and to the singular event that altered her forever and irrevocably set the course of her life. From her childhood, in which she was held captive to a mother gone mad, through her adult life, which unfolds as a mesmerizing sequence of men, abandoned children, and perpetual movement, Kate’s story is one of desperation and remarkable invention, a strangely American tale, brilliantly narrated by one of our most original writers.
About Lynn Stegner: Lynn Stegner is the author of four novels, including Undertow and Fata Morgana, both of which were nominated for the National Book Award, and Pipers at the Gates of Dawn, which was awarded the Faulkner Society’s Gold Medal for Best Novella. The manuscript for Because a Fire Was in My Head won the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for Best Novel of 2005. Stegner currently directs the Santa Fe Writers’ Workshop and lives in Santa Fe with her husband, the writer Page Stegner, and her daughter, Allison.