Firefighter’s Memoir

Russell Wangersky discusses Memoir on Firefighting

Those of us who live in rural communities rely on our volunteer firefighters to be there whenever disaster strikes. But what is like to be one of those people called upon to deal with all kinds of emergencies at any hour of the day or night? Russell Wangersky, a featured author at this year’s Cabot Trail Writers Festival, gives us the inside story in his 2008 memoir, Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself.

Russell was already attracted to danger and explosions as a boy growing up in Halifax. He later found a useful outlet for his passion by becoming a volunteer firefighter, a crucial role in rural communities. His memoir describes in vivid detail the realities of fighting fires and being a first-responder to car wrecks, medical emergencies and other human tragedies. He relates with unflinching honesty how his boyhood dream turned into a nightmare as he struggled with his own emotional and psychological trauma.

Russell’s riveting memoir won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction, the B.C. National Non-Fiction Book Award, the Rogers Cable Non-Fiction Award, the Drummer General Award and made the Top 100 Books list in The Globe and Mail. His most recent book, the short-story collection Whirl Away, was short-listed for the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Other works include The Glass Harmonica (winner, 2011 BMO Winterset Award), Danny Williams: A Profile (2011) and The Hour of Bad Decisions (2006). Russell lives in St. John’s, NL, where he is an editor and columnist for the daily newspaper The Telegram.

Russell Wangersky will be one of three featured authors appearing at the 5th annual Cabot Trail Writers Festival, October 4th to 6th, at the North River Community Hall.

by Sue McKay Miller