Rod Carley has concocted another hilarious romp behind the theatre curtain - a showdown between artistic freedom and censorship in rural Ontario. Kinmount is the last place down-and-out director Dave Middleton wants to revisit yet there he is directing an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet for an eccentric producer in farm country. And there his quixotic troubles begin. From cults to karaoke, anything that can go wrong does. In one hilarious chapter after another, Dave becomes the reluctant emissary of truth in a comic battle between artistic integrity and censorship. Add in a pesky ghost and a precocious parrot and the stage is set for a summer Kinmount won't soon forget.
About the author
Rod's first novel, A Matter of Will, was shortlisted for the 2018 Northern Lit Award for Fiction. His short story, A Farewell to Steam, was featured in the creative non-fiction anthology, 150 Years Up North and More, in 2018. Rod is also an award-winning director, playwright and actor, having directed and produced over 100 theatrical productions to date including fifteen adaptations of Shakespeare. He was the 2009 winner of TVO's Big Ideas/Best Lecturer competition. Kinmount is his second novel. Rod lives in North Bay with his wife, Marian, and their furry family: Arthur Poodle-bum, and a duo of feisty felines, Hilton and Zoe. Visit www.rodcarley.ca for more information and to book Rod for your book club or reading event.
- Short-listed, Northern Lit Award - Fiction
Excerpt: Kinmount (by (author) Rod Carley)
They pulled into Lola's driveway at three p.m.She greeted them in a floral one-piece jumpsuit that would've given Ertha Kitt pause. "Hey kids!" she gushed, wobbling down her cobblestones. "Come on in. Cocktails are on.""Lola, we're tired. Let's get them unpacked first," said Dave."Nonsense," she insisted, ushering the pair up her front steps. He pulled B.J.'s bike out of the hatch and left it on the lawn to be assembled. He then wheeled Miranda's bike around back, prudishly leaning it against the fountain (Professor Murray wouldn't be thrilled knowing that his daughter's bike was chained to a cement penis.) Lola's garden was a neo-classical nightmare, featuring a disturbing cluster of homemade phallic sculptures. Disturbing enough to cause Socrates to swallow hemlock prematurely. He lugged her suitcases to the front foyer and heard laughter emanating from the dining room. "Fifty drunken goat-clad priests dancing around a giant phallus, can you imagine it?" Lola was saying. Plop went the jalapeño peppers for emphasis. "You telling your choric dithyramb stories again," Dave said, entering the candlelit room. More wax dripping than usual. Lola had regaled him with her colourful account of Greek mythology during his last stay. The choric dithyramb was the orgiastic ascendant of car key swapping sugar bowl parties in the 1970s. In ancient Greece, fifty drunken goat-skin priests danced around a giant phallus chanting odes to Dionysus, the God of Swingers."I'm enlightening our young thespians on the backyard.""I think you've enlightened this room enough. Can we not blow out a few candles? It's stifling in here.""Do you two mind them?" she asked, refilling her drink and pouring him a martini."House rules," B.J. said diplomatically, wiping a bead of sweat off his brow."They're lovely. So romantic," Miranda gushed. "B.J., can you do something with your turnips, please? Bury them in the backyard or something," Dave said while exiting to the kitchen to pour his drink down the sink."You can put them in the fridge in the basement, B.J.," Lola offered."Thanks.""Through that door," she gestured. "Switch is at the top of the stairs."B.J. and Chickpea grabbed his turnip bundle and disappeared. Dave was unsure of what to make of B.J.'s purple parrot hand puppet. He'd developed an uneasiness around puppets after surviving the ill-fated Green Eggs and Hamlet children's tour."So, my sweet little thing, tell me about your father," Lola grinned, refilling Miranda's glass."Lola, she just got here. Easy on the third degree," Dave jumped in, returning from the kitchen."Nonsense. Is he handsome? A Byron I bet." Lola's eyes lit up."He's more of a Somerset Maugham. It's his favourite author. His specialty at U of T. He's obsessed with our inability to control our emotions. He says it constitutes bondage." Miranda answered with a detectable strain in her voice that Dave picked up on. "Ah, I see. 'It is an illusion that youth is happy,'" said Lola, quoting Of Human Bondage. "You concur?" "I'm happy most of the time," Miranda replied, twiddling the pepper in her glass."Of course you are and so you should be--such a pretty little thing. I could eat you with jam.""Lola!" Dave exploded."What? We're just getting acquainted aren't we, dear?""Yes. Is there a washroom I can use?" asked Miranda."Up the stairs, my dear. The lavender door. Cranberry towel set is for you.""Oh, that's so nice. Thank you." And she left the room."Don't look at me that way.""Lola, please go a little easy until they get to know you. Miranda is not one of your student boarders." God knows what went on there, he thought. "I don't want her calling her father and telling him she danced naked around a hedge cock on her first night.""Your first reading isn't until three tomorrow. Let them have some fun tonight." She picked out a bottle of scotch from behind the bar."Your idea of fun and the rest of humanity's are very different," he replied matter-of-factly. "If you're going to be like that, why don't you just go to your room and mope.""I want them working on their scripts tonight and rested for tomorrow. Please, set an example," he said, taking the bottle from her. "Fine," she snorted and stormed out of the room. He heard her clumping up the stairs, slamming her bedroom door."Shit," he muttered to himself."Have you been down there?" B.J. asked, dusting himself off as he emerged from the cellar. "No. I have a thing about basements.""Fifty heads hanging on the wall. A wild boar, a black bear, a huge moose.""She used to hunt. With a crossbow.""That's messed up.""Uh-huh.""Even a cougar with a pair of boxers in its mouth!" exclaimed Chickpea, back in action. "Fitting." Dave thought of the Nurse on the prowl on a Saturday night. "The Hemingway suite she calls it. Lola's a little on the eccentric side. In case you hadn't noticed.""Ah, she's harmless," Chickpea squawked in a high-pitched vibrato. "Yeah, she's harmless," Dave repeated the phrase, chewing on an ice cube. B.J. sat down and rolled a joint with Chickpea. "You might want to take that outside.""Right," said B.J. and Chickpea together. Dave wondered how that was even possible.The trio retired to the backyard."Where's Miranda?" asked B.J."Washroom.""Don't worry. I only toke at night," B.J. volunteered, sensing Dave's uneasiness."Good. I didn't want to have to ask," Dave said. He quickly changed the subject. "Not exactly a garden that fosters tea and scones." "Only if Oscar Wilde were a guest," Chickpea joked while B.J. inspected his herbs. "Yeah, don't bring that up. Lola will want to have a séance."They shared a laugh."Hey, guys." Miranda joined them, pulling her hair away from her mouth. "This place is so cool. Do you know there's a mobile with cherubs copulating hanging in the bathroom?""At least there isn't lipstick scrawled on the mirror," Dave said."Oh, but there is." "What?" "A greeting. 'Welcome thespians. May love blossom in these rooms.'""Great," Dave said hotly, opening the back-screen door and entering the kitchen. "Please don't fret. I think she's lovely," Miranda shouted after him."She's just eccentric," Chickpea offered up, flapping his wings. He passed the joint to Miranda who didn't decline.The sound of a bell ringing and getting closer pierced the evening quiet. A gunshot rang out from the front yard, followed by a boy's scream.The trio raced to the driveway only to see Lola brandishing a pellet gun and screaming at a terrified Dickie Dee ice cream boy cringing on the sidewalk. His front tire was shot out. Other neighbours were opening their front doors."I've warned you three times. Don't ring that fucking bell in front of my house!" Lola wailed.
"Rod Carley's Kinmount is a hit that kept me laughing and turning the pages from curtain to curtain. It's funny, thoughtful, compelling, and filled with humane insights about people and their passions. Not since Robertson Davies' Tempest-Tost has a community Shakespeare production been so much fun." Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. If you work in theatre, you'll love this book. If you've spent any serious time in small town Ontario, you'll get this book. If you simply like fun writing that makes you smirk and quite possibly snort out loud, this is definitely your book. Carley's view of all these things is truly a delight to witness. Shadflies, Shakespeare, and megalomaniac community censors don't seem as terrify- ing as I remember. All I can say is it's a tale of sound and fury signifying a delightful homage to community theatre.--Drew Hayden Taylor, Author/PlaywrightKinmount is a blast to read. It's fast-paced, engaging, and laugh out loud- funny. If you're not a theatre person, be prepared to enter the crazy world of small town drama in all it's hilarious glory. And if you ARE a theatre person, beware: you'll be wincing (and cheering on) a lot of familiar faces. Get thee to a bookstore and order!--Vern Thiessen, PlaywrightThe story is both entertaining and enlightening for anyone with a love of the classics, Shakespeare or simply a desire for madcap adventure. A wonderful read!!!--Andrew Jackson, ActorKinmount is going to make you howl with laughter.--Dave Carley, Playwright - Taking LibertiesRod Carley's romp through the world of small town theatrical life will be a delight for anyone interested in theatre, small towns, eccentric characters, laughing or finding a way to painlessly gain an insight into Shakespeare and the people who attempt him, keeping in mind the adage that 'we all fail Shakespeare'.--Miles Potter, Director, Stratford FestivalTo open the covers of Kinmount, is to enter a world of theatre, mayhem, magic and small-town hijinks. Rod Carley's masterful novel moves at a page-turning turbo-speed, fueled by razor-sharp wit, unexpected twists andturns, and a cast of characters that leap right off the page.--Heidi von Palleske, author, Two White Queens and the One-Eyed JackIt is a laugh out loud comedy with enough bizarre and even some paranormal twists to keep you breathlessly turning the pages.--Carrie Schiffler, Actor/PoetIn the lively, humorous style of Tom Sharpe and Terry Pratchett, Rod Car- ley's story of a professional theatre director's struggle to produce a communi- ty Shakespeare production in small town Ontario was a wonderfully funny and engaging read.--Ian Farthing, Artistic Advisor, Pacific Theatre, Vancouver, B.C.Kinmount has a high level of sophistication and at the same time pulls the curtain back on the topsy turvy world of amateur theatre. It is well-drawn, full of interesting characters with clever dialogue, funny, and at times, sur-prisingly deep.--Norm Foster, Canada's Most-Produced Playwright