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Because a Fire Was in My Head
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Because a Fire Was in My Head

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  90 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 286 pages
Published April 18th 2007 by University of Nebraska Press (first published April 1st 2007)
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Coffeeboss
Oct 16, 2007 Coffeeboss rated it liked it
Kate Riley is a selfish and basically unlikable character, and maybe part of it is that she is a strong woman in the wrong place in the wrong time of history. The story follows her from her youth on the plains of Saskatchewan, to going to the big city of Vancouver in the late 1940s--just the beginning a series of men (resulting in unwanted children) in a series of different cities, from Seattle to San Francisco. The book is very vivid in its portrayal of these cities, and very well written, ...more
Betty Guthrie
Mar 08, 2009 Betty Guthrie rated it it was amazing
I got this book after hearing Lynn Stegner speak at the Literary Women event in Long Beach in February. The writing is terrific -- crisp, descriptive, smart without being opaque. The main character is a woman so desperate for male love and desire that she makes terrible life choices. She is self-centered, narcissistic, and blind to the real ways in which she might connect with others and contribute to their lives. Stegner's gift is to let us see the world from this very unlikeable woman's ...more
Jscheeres
Dec 14, 2007 Jscheeres rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I loved this book - reviewed this for the Times. Nice to have a female protagonist who is as self-interested and heartless and heartbreaking as all those male characters out there for a change. The writing is shockingly good as well.
Alexisisadora
Jan 03, 2008 Alexisisadora rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: selfish pricks and people with existential angst
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lindsey
Jun 12, 2009 Lindsey rated it it was ok
I guess I can understand why other people would like this book, but I didn't like it at all.
Literary Ventures Fund
Oct 01, 2007 Literary Ventures Fund rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: women, fans of literary fiction, it's a wonderful book

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 th
...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Since the novel's anti-heroine is unabashedly self-absorbed and unsympathetic, convincing a reader to care for her is a true accomplishment. Four-time novelist Lynn Stegner pulls it off with panache. Yes, it has a slow beginning, and it does trace a grim and troubling downward spiral. Still, it rings true. Emotionally troubled characters are a dime a dozen, but Kate Riley's sexual longings and American heart put her in a class of her own. The New York Times Book Review even goes on record to say

...more
Jill
Mar 24, 2008 Jill rated it did not like it
The review on the inside cover said something along the lines of "The protagonist is someone you will not like, an almost unheard-of thing in the world of fiction." This caught my eye, and as a sometimes-writer, I am always curious how authors do new and crazy things. I should have listened to what this really meant - I would hate the protagonist. This book made me feel icky inside, and when I was done, I felt a little ill. I'm not sure why I kept reading, except that I guess I thought it must ...more
Danielle
May 19, 2009 Danielle rated it it was ok
I could have finished this book if I'd set my mind to it. I didn't stop reading it because it was annoying, only because I had too many books going at the same time and this one didn't have me on the edge of my seat.
I really liked the writing. Quite beautiful and moving, and I was impressed with the vignettes Stegner used to tell the story. She was able reveal much about the characters through brief interactions.
Based on the other reviews here, I have the feeling that if I'd kept reading, I woul
...more
Jan
Apr 04, 2014 Jan rated it it was ok
There was not one redeeming quality of this woman, but I kept reading, in horrified fascination. It was a thoroughly believable character study of a narcissistic sociopath, blundering through her life and ruining others on the way. Normally I would throw a book like this across the room before I finished it, but it really was well done. I'm relieved to have finished it.
Diane
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Dec 06, 2012
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Apr 15, 2009
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Jul 11, 2009
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Drew
Mar 26, 2010 Drew added it
Because a Fire Was in My Head (Flyover Fiction) by Lynn Stegner (2007)
James Magruder
James Magruder rated it really liked it
Nov 24, 2009
Chamie
Oct 22, 2009 Chamie marked it as to-read
Shelves: books-i-own
bought at the book fair.
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