Will Ferguson's 419

by Shaun Hunter

Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers

View of Calgary from the North Hill, 1911 (Photo: Calgary Public Library)

View of Calgary from the North Hill, 1911 (Photo: Calgary Public Library)

Laura Curtis lives in a shopping mall. Her apartment elevator delivers her into the village of North Hill Centre. Everything she needs is here: food court, pharmacy, gym; hair salon, doctor’s office, chocolate shop. Her life is constrained and careful. She lives alone, works from home editing books about other people’s lives. Keeps things simple. From her apartment window, she watches the city with the cool, steady gaze of a copy editor.


Laura’s windows were aligned not with the mountains but toward downtown; they looked onto that sandstone-and-steel city below with its Etch-a-Sketch skyline, a city that was constantly erasing and rewriting itself… She could chart the price of a barrel of oil from her bedroom window by the turning of construction cranes along the skyline. When the price fell below some magical point, the cranes would slow down. And then stop. When the price rose again, the cranes would start up, spinning anew. Faster and faster.

The Heart of the New West. That’s what they called the city. And from up here, it did indeed beat like a heart, like one of those stop-motion films of traffic pulsing on aortal avenues.

Will Ferguson, 419 (Penguin, 2012)