There’ll be magic, music and mayhem when Ontario performance artist Kate Story brings her first novel, Blasted, to Bear River with a reading at Oakdene Centre Coffee House on Monday, September 8, 2008.
The reading will begin at 7 pm and admission is free.
Story is well-known in central Ontario for her theatre, dance and film work and has twice been nominated for the Ontario Arts Council’s K.M. Hunter Artist Award. While this is her first novel, Story’s short stories have been published in Broken Pencil and Kiss Machine magazines, and her written works have been produced as plays, performance art pieces, and theatre-dance productions in Ontario and Newfoundland.
Blasted is the story of Ruby Jones, a young Newfoundlander lurching between love affairs and cities and haunted by the mysteries that surround her father and generations before. Steeped in Newfoundland folklore, the book layers the mundane and the magical as it explores the contrasts and conflicts between generations, geographies, and contemporary life in Southside St. John’s and Queen Street Toronto.
“Geographically, the book definitely mines some of my own experience,” says Story, who grew up in Newfoundland and lived in Toronto before settling in Peterborough, Ontario. “Ruby lives on the same road I grew up on in St. John’s and in the same apartment I had in Toronto,” she says.
But the character came out of nowhere. “Ruby seized me fully-formed and demanded that I write about her,” Story laughs.
The Southside, childhood home of both Ruby and Story, lies across the harbour from St. John’s proper and “is a bit magical,” Story says. “There are a lot of fairy stories from the Southside hills. The Southside is also traditionally considered to be on the wrong side of the tracks.”
Ruby carries that double legacy of magic and hard-living with her as she bounces back and forth between her birthplace and Toronto, making her living as a waitress and sometime nude model. Along the way, Ruby crosses paths with an array of vivid characters: her irascible grandfather, elegant Cree artist Blue, her whiskey-slugging Aunt Queenie, and others.
Blasted has received advance praise from some of Newfoundland’s most respected writers, including River Thieves author Michael Crummey, who declared Story’s book “raw and strange and hilarious and affecting.” Anne Hart, a St. John’s-based biographer and specialist in Newfoundland studies, called Blasted “an irresistible first novel.”
In Bear River, Story will be accompanied by Peterborough musicians Curtis Driedger and Derek Bell. The trio’s original compositions morph into traditional and contemporary songs and back again, underscoring Story’s reading and evoking the moods and themes of Blasted.
Story and her musical entourage will visit a number of other communities, including Toronto, Peterborough, Montreal, Fredericton, Liverpool, Broad Cove, and Halifax, before arriving in St. John’s on Sept. 11 for the official Newfoundland launch of Blasted. The book is published by Killick Press, a division of St. John’s-based Creative Book Publishing.
Copies of Blasted will be available for purchase at the Bear River reading. Blasted can also be ordered on line from www.creativebookpublishing.ca and www.amazon.com.
For more information about the book or its author, visit www.katestory.com.