Long Change / Don Gillmor
“Oil is what holds Western civilization up. It is energy, politics and security. It binds Christians to Arabs. It starts wars and creates wealth.” – pp. 104
To be honest, I don’t know what it was about this book that attracted me when I read the review invite from Random House. Don Gillmor may be a Canadian household name, but I haven’t read any of his book. Moreover, oil is something that doesn’t really appeal to me. The only thing I know about it is, just like money, it’s a necessary evil. It turns out, the industry is that much interesting that I ended up devouring this book in one weekend!
Long Change is the story of one man’s life and loves as it correlates with the dog-eat-dog world of the oil business. Some could argue that his life was dictated by whichever way the oil flows. From the dry heat of Texas, to the frozen tundra of Alberta; and even as far away as the perilous remoteness of Africa, Ritt Devlin’s life was an up and down roller coaster of triumphs and failures.
He escaped the clutches of his abusive, religious father at a young age of 17 in the 50s. From there, he worked in an oilfield in Abilene, Texas. He found himself on the run from the law after an altercation with a group of men looking for trouble. From Texas, he made his way to Alberta where the oil business was just getting off the ground. He also met his great love, Oda. A tall, bookish woman who would show him the love of outdoors and the love of books.
Through the years, he’ll experience great successes and disappointments. And yet even with all that, Ritt kept a cool disposition; never losing his temper or straying away from his goal. He had a way of distancing himself from situations – however minute, or consequential it may be. I almost felt like one of the women that passed by his life after Oda. When he didn’t seem to feel a smidgeon of remorse for not trying hard enough to make a relationship work.
Ritt Devlin has a very passionate relationship with Geology. He understood it, he respected it, and he more or less took advantage of it. Even still, I rooted for him. I wanted him to find the ultimate success that eluded him. This novel had me in its grips. It’s not a suspenseful read, but the power of Gillmor’s writing is that he captures the readers from the first page. He had me interested in an industry that I hate but could not live without. The plot moved steadily, but with relentless passion. Passion in Ritt’s relationships – personal, business, and more importantly, with the land.
GOODREADS SUMMARY | Random House Canada | August 18th, 2015 | 4 out of 5 Stars