Sunday, September 04, 2016
"Kate And Ruby"
In "Venice Beach," Chico novelist Emily Gallo (emilygallo.blogspot.com) created a host of characters connected through the Southern California town's boardwalk and the mysterious denizen named Jed, an escapee from the Jonestown massacre.
In "Kate and Ruby" ($12.95 in paperback from CreateSpace; also for Amazon Kindle), the author picks up the story of Kate McGee, whose father Jed had helped. Kate is "a thin, fit, spry fifty-five year-old who looked like she hadn't aged in fifteen years. It also helped that she made sure there wasn't a gray strand anywhere in her pixie hairstyle."
Kate had married Martin, whose mother, Ruby, was a blues singer. Ruby had taken great offense at the interracial couple, and "Kate had never forgiven her for shunning her as a daughter-in-law just for being white." Though their love ran deep, the marriage ended in divorce when Martin eventually came out to Kate.
For Ruby, it was the last straw; she "practically disowned Martin for being gay" and didn't speak to him for three decades. Kate as well had moved on with her life, cultivating a desire to join the Peace Corps.
Then Martin dies of HIV AIDS, and Ruby, in her mid-eighties and unwell, is in San Francisco to tend to Martin's effects. When Kate gets a call from one of Martin's friends, she arrives and there is Ruby, who soon after has the first in a series of heart attacks. Kate and Ruby find their lives intertwined as Kate becomes the care-giver (and eventually the supplier of medical marijuana).
The story, told mostly in dialogue, shows how time's dailyness can bring change, as Ruby teaches Kate how to garden and Kate teaches Ruby how to use a computer--which Ruby uses to find Lawrence, Martin's fraternal twin. Then Kate must choose between a growing love for Lawrence and her Peace Corps commitment.
This is not the life Kate imagined for herself but, as Lawrence puts it (though neither are religious), "Man plans and God laughs."
The author is a scheduled guest on Nancy's Bookshelf, with Nancy Wiegman, on mynspr.org, Friday at 10:00 a.m., and will be doing a signing during the Thursday Night Market in Chico on September 15th.