Kinmount Reviews

“Rod Carley’s KINMOUNT is a hit that kept me laughing and turning the pages from curtain to curtain. It is 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. I’ve driven through Kinmount twice but next time, I’m tempted to stop and see if the town is actually as interesting as it seems in the book. Shadflies, Shakespeare, and megalomaniac community censors don’t seem as terrifying 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/Playwright

KINMOUNT is a must-read for anyone who has ever been involved with amateur theatre. The small town setting only makes it even more on point. Rod Carley is clearly a big fan of Shakespeare and his knowledge of The Bard lays the groundwork for this very funny tale. 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, surprisingly deep.”
Norm Foster
 Canada’s Most-Produced Playwright

KINMOUNT is a blast to read. It’s fast-paced, engaging, and laugh out loud of 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
 Playwright

“Rod 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’. Also, in case anyone cares, this novel hits awfully close to home for those of us who have attempted to navigate the treacherous waters of small town theatre. Rod Carley knows of which he speaks.”
Miles Potter
 Director, Stratford Festival

“What a delightful, warm, funny book. So great to disappear for a while into a world that a lot of us are missing right now. And if I was afraid that that world would vanish, I know that I could call Dave (the book’s protagonist) and he would be there in a minute to start something up – no matter where it was – what the adversity- what the cost …… I feel hopeful; I know a lot of Dave’s.”
Tom McCamus
 Actor, Shaw and Stratford Festivals

“Rod Carley has written a ripping, romantic, ribald and revelatory romp – a hilarious and twisted take on the eternal tale of a misfit “company of players” finding their place in the world, overcoming both practical and other-worldly adversity, and forging that most ephemeral of things – the collective conspiracy that makes a memorable, even triumphant theatrical production. If you have ever put your shoulder to the wheel of creation against all odds, you will share my joy in reading KINMOUNT.”
Blair Williams
 Actor

“Rod Carley’s new novel KINMOUNT is a romp; it also partakes of elements of the picaresque, although its protagonist, director Dave Middleton, is not a ‘rogue’ except in his roguish and dogged determination to get his work onstage against all the odds, and, although the book is set almost entirely in the small Ontario town of Kinmount, its range is considerable.
Carley considers ancient Greek theatre, the Furies, Elizabethan England, Shakespeare’s life and work, and life in small town Ontario, travelling with alacrity from place to place and time to time. The book begins when Dave is asked by Lola Whale, ‘aging Renaissance woman’ to direct a community production of “Romeo & Juliet” at a summer festival in Kinmount. Against his better judgement, he ends up agreeing to do it. Much of the comedy in the book (and there is plenty) comes from Carley’s sharply observed depiction of the foibles of the amateur company (with two professionals hired to play the title characters) he assembles, and the distance between the intentions of the actors and their results. Another attractive feature of the novel is that Carley lets us in on Dave’s thoughts about the play and his plans for the production, and shows him executing them in rehearsal with the company. I found these elements among the most compelling, because Dave is smart and his thoughts on theatre are informative and interesting.

True to novels about theatre productions, Dave’s show arouses various kinds of local opposition and the body of the novel is concerned with his heroic, fly by night, teeth-gritting efforts to meet every obstacle as it comes up and overcome it. I don’t want to do any plot-spoilers here, but one character emerges as the necessary villain, and she is a formidable opponent. This battle with the local forces of censorship and misunderstanding affords Carley a chance to examine theatre art, and Dave articulates the book’s defense and celebration of the form.
Carley has a real gift for creating character: there is a really enjoyable group of oddballs in the book, and his eye for the telling detail brings even the smaller characters to immediate life. Dave is a somewhat hapless, self-deprecating and charming protagonist and the novel’s interspersing of elements of theory and theatre history with the plot is skillfully done.

I like books about the theatre, and KINMOUNT is a good one, a really fun, easy read, and at 316 pages, just the right length. It has lots of hijinks, philosophy, art, and even a hint of the supernatural. In this time of theatres being closed, it is a reminder that theatre endures, adapts, is cunning, and triumphs in the end.”
Hume Baugh
 Actor

“Starting with director Dave Middleton reluctantly agreeing to direct an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet in rural Ontario with a local cast from the town (except for the leads – “So you bring in a couple of theatre school grads who’ll jump at the opportunity…”), I had a great time reading this flashing back to summer stock stories and experiences, reflecting on battles between artistic integrity and censorship, while enjoying the story of a summer of theatre in Kinmount, Ontario. This was such an entertaining read, but also with its thoughtful and thought-provoking moments. Feels ideal for anyone who has any experience with summer stock or community theatre and Shakespeare, but suspect most people who have enjoyed any kind of theatre experience would get a kick out of this one.
Derrick Chua
 Independent Theatre Producer, Toronto, ON

“The ease of storytelling; the humour, gentle and overt; the moving moments and more; KINMOUNT represents a return to — and a step beyond — Stephen Leacock and Robertson Davies. A great and welcomed read. Get in and enjoy!”
Bruce Dow
 Actor

“Pick up a copy of Rod Carley’s newest book KINMOUNT. You won’t be disappointed as you are drawn into the hilarious world of an amateur production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ directed by Dave Middleton in the small town of Kinmount. Middleton, a passionate, well-educated but frustrated director, who, despite the compromises he is forced to take, pushes his deep insight and love of Shakespeare into the minds and souls of his rag-tag cast. The narrative clips apace, inhabited by believable and comically flawed characters that you cannot help but like. The novel is peppered with wry observations about life in a small Canadian town, complete with erratic shadflies and the inherent highs and lows of creating theatre when the odds of success are not in your favour. An enjoyable read from start to finish.”
Andrew Dolha
 Acting Instructor

“I loved it! It starts off with hilarious quips and oh so innocently…you know, just a novel about Dave, a middle aged down-on-his-luck director, in some small Ontario town putting on Romeo & Juliet in the hot summer. And then it turns. In the most wonderful of ways. Relationships deepen and the conflict…well, it goes off the small town rails. All in a fun way. And by then you’re along for the ride, and you’re not sure if it can end well for Dave and his group of misfit performers.

One chapter reads like a romantic Salt Water Moon scene (the ‘roof’ chapter, my favourite of the bunch)…and the next like Fargo Season 2, when the town is not as innocent as it seemed. I mean – there was that arson that may have been murder a few years ago.

And in between all the beauty and mystical conflict, are one-liners and witty observations that will bring a smile to your face. And all throughout Dave is teaching about Shakespeare’s first folio and Greek theater origins – dare I say, you may learn something here folks! Rod has weaved a fun and special tale. I highly recommend it. To live is to laugh, think, and feel. While reading KINMOUNT, you’ll be living for sure.”

Tim C. Murphy

“In Rod Carley’s new book, eccentric community theatre producer, Lola Whale, envisions “Shakespeare for families” to be performed in a three-day summer festival in the small town of Kinmount (also the title of the book) and invites an out-of-towner, reluctant realist Dave Middleton, to direct Romeo and Juliet.

Dave’s curmudgeonly attitude is evident in his acerbic criticism of small town Ontario. But when shadfly season in his hometown of Birch Lake makes a stint in Kinmount the lesser of two evils, he agrees to Lola’s proposition and takes the job.

With a host of misfit characters cast in the production, author Rod Carley tells a humorous story that both entertains and enlightens: while Dave the weary pessimist negotiates zany small-town politics, modern-day “Furies” and his own gut instinct (Listen! it often demands), he carefully exercises his craft, subtly exposing the directorial process of interpreting Shakespeare’s work.

When the play is considered too bawdy for family-friendly theatre, Dave is plunged into controversy. Changes to the script are demanded and Dave is forced to take a stand. Will modern-day political correctness censor Shakespeare? Or will original intent and artistic integrity win out?

Thrust into a position of defending his passion – theatre and artistic expression – Dave’s character shines when he stands up for what he believes in declaring, “All I have in my life is my artistic integrity; it’s the one thing I like about myself.”

I enjoyed Rod Carley’s way with a play and his many a masterly play on words.

With a long career in theatre himself, perhaps it’s not surprising that Rod is a master at writing dialogue. Creating witty banter among a sizeable cast of characters, he impressively distinguishes his cast, each with their own tone of voice, and carries the story in a large part by dialogue alone.

Rod cannily crafts parallel storylines – that of the play and the characters in KINMOUNT. Just as the play is not what it seems (Romeo & Juliet is not a love story Dave insists), the eccentric Lola is not what she seems either. The protagonist’s character develops alongside Romeo. While the pressure to be a man got to Romeo causing him to seek vengeance, so too does the pressure get to Dave, as he rushes to defend his play from the forces that seek to destroy it.

You’ll learn much about Romeo & Juliet that you never knew (including the fact that there is no balcony scene in the original – What? No balcony?) and many bits of trivia about the Bard himself.

KINMOUNT is sure to delight anyone who appreciates live theatre, great dialogue and a sharp sense of wit.

Congratulations on your second book Rod Carley! It was a pleasure to read.”

Jennifer M. Smith
Author of Green Ghost, Blue Ocean

“This book is nonstop funny from front to back! If you have ever been involved in any kind of theatre production this will absolutely resonate as you will recognize many of the personalities from the community (a little large than life in this version.) If you have never been involved in theatre this will peel back the curtain and give you a look at the psychological acrobatics required to put on that polished show you see when the curtain rises. On top of the wonderfully enjoyable read, Rod Carley manages to provide the reader with an understanding of Shakespeare, his time and his plays in the most entertaining way. Grab a copy and lose yourself, it’s tough to put down!”
Eric McKenzie

“Rod Carley’s KINMOUNT is a fictional tell-tale exposé of a director’s life in Northern Ontario. David Middleton is asked by a small town producer to direct Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in the town of Kinmount’s local park. He begrudgingly accepts the task and faces a ménage of never-ending and often hilarious challenges, which fall under the realm of the absurd. Dave’s mad attempt to explore art and meaning, in a rural and seemingly dead end town, force him to question his own sanity. His mind dances with anecdotes and insights from Shakespeare’s life and works, amid the hell of bugs, goose droppings, eccentrics, ghosts, small-town minds and an array of motley characters. The 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
Actor

“I picked up this novel a week ago, opened it and carried it around with me for two days. I was so taken in with it I did not want to put it down. Rod has always been a specialist – aiming just the right metaphor at every occasion…not unlike a gunslinger with a Gatling gun in each holster… I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was how close to home these metaphors were for me. Also, how events in the novel were running parallel to events I experienced. This is the magic and empathy Rod has with his audience. He connects with us through his characters in very personal ways, by shared experiences whether physical or, dare I say, spiritual. His characters are richly portrayed with just the right amount of vulnerability to make us lean forward and be pulled into their drama. They are familiar to us. We interact with these types in our lives and share or try to avoid them as the occasion arises.
What I particularly loved was that he did not give us explanations as to why certain of his characters were the way they were…of note, Lola. I love that there is still mystery surrounding her and what makes her tick. I would have been so disappointed if he would have explained her behaviour as dependent on the midichlorian count she possesses. Pick this novel up, grab a glass of wine, put your feet up and be prepared to laugh out loud, to be enthralled by the people of Kinmount (an unfortunate name…lol) for a great read.”
Michelle St. Onge

“I thoroughly enjoyed KINMOUNT from start to finish! Rod Carley has ability to grab a readers interest immediately and hold it until the last page. The interesting, eccentric group of characters have you laughing and cheering from start to finish. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, as well as Rod’s first book A MATTER OF WILL.”
Diane Kyle

“Fans of community theatre will be laughing out loud. Loads of interesting literary tidbits and insights add depth.”
Laurie Jeffrey

“I purchased KINMOUNT a few weeks ago. It was a wonderful read, with great writing, abundant laugh-out-loud moments, a terrific cast of characters, and a more-than-timely story in these days when the arts, and live performance in particular, are under siege. Rod Carley’s love and knowledge of Shakespeare are evident throughout. I often felt I was taking a theatre course as well as reading a novel, and I mean that in a good way! I learned a lot. Highly recommended!”
Ted Chase

“Congratulations, Rod, I finished your terrific book this morning….what a wild romp through Shakespeare, professional theatre and community theatre. The rapier wit and turns of phrases balanced by characters we’ve all known in one way or shape kept me swooning with laughter. Well done and I wish you tons of well-deserved success.”
Joan Bendon
Director

“Just finished KINMOUNT. The ending is a page-turner due to the care taken to get there. The plot is ever-moving and the characters are just that…characters!! Rod Carley certainly knows his Shakespeare and I enjoyed the learning. Would recommend this book for a light read with some good one-liners.”
Barry Raison

KINMOUNT is a delightful, surprisingly informative read. Each delicious page of humour will make you smile. You don’t need a theatre background to enjoy it, but if you do (at any level) it adds another layer of flavor.”
Richard Moore

“A great read from Rod Carley. Anyone who has ever been in a theatre production will love it. Fans of Shakespeare will enjoy the historical tidbits too.”
Keely Davison

“Just finished KINMOUNT. The ending is a page-turner due to the care taken to get there. The plot is ever-moving and the characters are just that…characters!! Rod Carley certainly knows his Shakespeare and I enjoyed the learning. Would recommend this book for a light read with some good one-liners.”
Barry Clout

“I’d like to recommend the novel KINMOUNT by Rod Carley. A reviewer said it was: “…funny, thoughtful, compelling and filled with humane insights about people and their passions.” I fully concur and would add that I certainly recognized the folks in this novel. I laughed my head off. And wept. I found it a stirring tribute to Shakespeare, storytelling and the beautiful lunatics that devote their lives to it all. Well worth the read. Bravo, Rod!”

Simon Bradbury
Actor/Playwright/Author

“To 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 and turns, and a cast of characters that leap right off the page. In Carley’s capable hands, we discover Shakespeare all over again, in a personal and profound way, while we experience the humanity shared within a close community. It’s an inside look at the passion of theatre, even as it is brought to a small-town; its players and audience all citizens of Kinmout. Through his lead character, Dave Middleton, a theatre director who seemed to have looked over Jordan but never made it to the Promised Land, we get to balance the sublime with the mundane, the ludicrous with the poignant and the great sense of love of the theatre even as we feel the loss that the show must ultimately end. That same loss I felt as I came to the last page of this brilliantly crafted novel. Carley uses theatre as a metaphor for life in all its beauty and ephemeral being. Through humour, snappy dialogue and insight, Carley gives takes us on a journey that is as illuminating as it is entertaining. KINMOUNT is a perfect CANLIT novel…but fasten your seatbelts because this work is a wild ride from start to finish.”
Heidi von Palleske
 Author of Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack

“I should begin this review by stating that although the author and I share a surname, we are not related. Rod is apparently the descendant of sheep-stealers. My predecessors had a more loving relationship with even-toed ungulates.

My non-cousin has written one hugely funny book. If you are in theatre – either as spectator or (foolishly) more deeply involved; if you have ever lived in or driven through an Ontario small town; if you have made love to someone north of Highway 7 and come to understand the intrusive curiosity of shadflies… KINMOUNT is going to make you howl with laughter.

A down-on-his-luck director named Dave (again, no relation) is invited to elevate a small town with a summertime production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Against his better judgement, he goes – and casts his play with a range of local characters. Rehearsals progress fairly smoothly until the Producer turns on Dave and tries to sabotage the production. What follows is a warm-hearted, hot-headed account of what happens when Art is confronted by Philistines.

Rod Carley is a well-known director and he generously shares his love and knowledge of Shakespeare in this romp. I learned a lot, even as I laughed my way through KINMOUNT.”

Dave Carley
 Taking Liberties

“Delightfully funny and humane, KINMOUNT celebrates the tenacity of theatre makers in the face of adversity, if not delicious absurdity. Carley takes us on the tempest-tossed ride taken by Dave Middleton; a mid-career director and Shakespeare aficionado, who finds himself lured from the shadfly infested Town of Birch Lake to the small Ontario Highlands town of Kinmount to direct its inaugural outdoor Shakespeare production of Romeo and Juliet. Dave is plunged headlong into amateur theatre havoc wrought by wrongheaded censorship and conspiracy at the hands of the extraordinary Lola Whale, part local amateur theatre maven, part deity of vengeance whose sound and fury has reverberated through Kinmount for years.

Despite being besieged by Lola’s wrath and a sea of other mysterious troubles that range from the sweetly mundane, to the rib-tickling ridiculous, to the sublimely supernatural, Dave and his motley cast of homespun locals form a bond of theatrical kinship, and resolutely march “once more unto the breach” in an effort to deliver the production they set out to do. Carley finely balances the hilarity and humanity of Dave’s thespian and personal misfortunes with caringly crafted thoughtful insights into the work of Shakespeare.

A page turner from start to finish, KINMOUNT hilariously captures the feelings of madness, frustration and the desire to prevail elicited in an artist who is hell bent on making theatre in order to play on!”

Elizabeth Saunders
 Director/Actor

“I just finished Rod Carley’s novel, KINMOUNT. A showdown between artistic freedom and censorship, set in the small Ontario town of Kinmount. Rod skillfully intertwines years of theatre experience into a thoughtful, funny story that you will not want to put down.”

 

Layne Coleman
 Actor/Director/Playwright

“In the lively, humorous style of Tom Sharpe and Terry Pratchett, Rod Carley’s story of a professional theatre director’s struggle to produce a community Shakespeare production in small town Ontario was a wonderfully funny and engaging read. Love, revenge, comedy – everything you’d expect to find in a Shakespeare tale weaves its way into the small community of Kinmount.”

Ian Farthing
 Artistic Advisor, Pacific Theatre, Vancouver, B.C.

KINMOUNT was a hoot. To give “full disclosure” as they say, I am a Canadian actor, living in Ontario, (and a hockey fan). I realized early on that my cheeks were aching from smiling as I read. The humour is sometimes delightfully silly, in a playful pun kind of way, but there’s a good deal of wry and self-deprecating humour, often specific to Canadian culture as well. I laughed out loud at the woes of the protagonist’s step-father, who “had lost everything betting against the Leafs in ’67.”

There’s crackling energy on every page, and the book is packed with insights into Shakespeare’s texts and life, with always fascinating and often juicy tidbits from other corners of history—from kooky Dionysian rituals to hints of highly possible pub conversations between Shakespeare and Cervantes, to Elizabeth I’s dancercise routine. I didn’t expect to learn so many crazy fun details, while reading this. Coming across one of these nuggets was like finding a chocolate in my Christmas stocking.

Fitting for our present time of Covid 19, there are rich references to the fact that Romeo & Juliet was “the first play to be produced in London, after the Black Death of 1592 to 1594 wiped out close to a third of the population”; that “all the Theatres were shut down for three years.” Phew. It’s astonishing to realize how we can now truly relate to this fact (luckily minus the scabs and boils…). (Rod Carley’s historical-cultural curiosity and often arcane knowledge makes me think he’d be fantastic at digging further into the plague theme, and make an adaptation of The Decameron. In his hands it would be great fun and easily readable for our modern sensibilities… and insensibilities…).

KINMOUNT is essentially about a small town theatre production with local amateurs and a couple of theatre school graduates brought up from the city. As a Theatre person, I’ve known these characters in the flesh, and worked with most of them, and I recognize (and yearn for) the sweaty sense of doom and deep regret that can come before the various hitherto unfathomable, fragile elements are coaxed, or wrestled, into a vital, ephemeral creation that unfolds in front of an audience.

As our own Theatres have been closed for about nine months so far (with no re-opening in sight) it is a great joy to be in the company of fellow theatre-folk again…these misfits, vagabonds, Artists, who—despite physical threats, censorship, small-mindedness and intrigue—breathe dangerous, raunchy, blood-filled life into their small-Ontario-town ‘Romeo & Juliet’, (Three Shows Only!) almost 450 years after the play was first performed.

This book was great fun.”

Brooke Johnson
 Actor/Playwright

KINMOUNT is a terrific read with recognizable, friendly, wacky, and interesting characters. I appreciate how Carley weaved theatre and Greek history within the story.”

Patrick McKenna
 Actor

“Rod Carley has written a wild ride through a community theatre’s summer production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. With great characters, and a lot of fun and compassion, Carley’s work reveals a love for the people who try against all odds to mount any kind of live theatre, and shares many insights into interpreting Shakespeare. Highly recommended.”

Lee MacDougall
 Playwright/Actor

“I just finished reading KINMOUNT, and will be in withdrawal for the next few days. KINMOUNT is the perfect salve, during these pandemic times, for my theatre deprived soul. Rod has crafted another delightful tale (also having written A Matter of Will) inspired by his love of the theatre and the Bard.
The story revolves around experienced theatre director Dave Middleton, who is hired to direct an amateur theatre production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ for a 3-day summer festival in the small Ontario town of Kinmount. He assembles a motley crew of a cast from Toronto and the Kinmount area, and barrels headlong toward an inevitable opening night, fighting shadflies, a lunatic producer, witchcraft, and oh so much more. Rod’s characters are full of wit and whimsy, and his love of the theatre serves as the thematic heartbeat of this thoroughly entertaining piece of fiction. I already miss his cast of quirky, mostly loveable, misfits.

A great read! And a great gift for anyone who misses the complex comradery of the rehearsal hall, or for anyone who misses the theatre.”
Duncan Ollerenshaw
 Actor

“Well, this is another wild ride of a novel brought to us by the prodigious talent of Rod Carley and his intimate relationship with all things Shakespeare and the world of small town summer theatre. Anyone who has ever been involved with theatre in any way will find lots to relate to and, considering the current Covid world, pine nostalgically for here. Our hero, Dave Middleton, works valiantly to produce a production of Romeo and Juliet with the local Kinmount players and contrary to the wishes of the original producer who decides early on that Dave’s vision of the play using the First Folio is too vulgar and violent. You won’t believe the sometimes hysterical, sometimes terrifying lengths this producer goes in order to sabotage Dave’s production. There is a rich panoply of hilarious and finely drawn characters here, most of whom valiantly assist Dave in trying to save the show. Like his first book, Carley fills this novel with a series of bright surprises and I found myself entirely seduced by our hero, Dave, and his ragged band of thespians and assorted townsfolk. This warm, funny book about the many adventures involved in creating live theatre has never been needed more than now. Read on!”
Jeff Miller
 Actor

KINMOUNT, Rod Carley’s new novel, is in truth, a gloriously offbeat vacation disguised as a book.
Its collection of oddball characters endeared themselves to me in a big way. Foremost amongst these is Dave Middleton, a man trying hard to refuse a directing job in Kinmount, Ontario. There’s some prior history there, but as life would have it, “Romeo and Juliet” and the town of Kinmount are the only way forward for Dave’s star-crossed career. With resignation, he submits to whatever force seems to be pushing him in that direction. Unfortunately, things continue to deteriorate once he arrives. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong it seems to Dave’s growing disgruntlement and our total delight. Anyone involved in show business knows this to be a recurrent real-life theme. Remember the ever-optimistic theatre impresario from “Shakespeare in Love,” whose constant pronouncement was, “It’ll all turn out alright.” Will that also be Dave’s fate in Kinmount? Part of the fun is not knowing.

Dave’s trials and tribulations are a comic goldmine and Carley skillfully mines them. At the same time, we feel compassion for his characters’ dilemmas. During the hilarity we also encounter penetrating and thought-provoking messages concerning censorship, artistic and moral integrity, mental illness, Shakespeare’s first folio and the enormous blessings that art in general and theatre specifically, provide for our society. Carley draws us effortlessly into this small community of eccentrics, and even its most outlandish individuals and their outrageous antics ultimately charm us.

All of this is deftly accomplished while the witty dialogue and brisk timing carry us toward the final curtain. I confess that when the time came for Dave to finally depart Kinmount, I realized that I wanted to stay on for a while longer and perhaps even settle down there.”
Chris Gibson
 Artist

“I found Rod Carley’s hilarious second novel, KINMOUNT, hard to put down. It was both entertaining and quite educational, laying bare the secrets behind Shakespearean theatre production while telling a very character-driven personal tale. The story centers on a “down-and-out” director, Dave Middleton, who has been hired by a rather eccentric producer to mount an amateur production of “Romeo and Juliet” in her rural Ontario town. With two seasoned actors imported from the city to play the lead roles, the rest of the cast is made up of townfolk, from a respected judge to a couple of stoners and everything in between.

Anything that can possibly go wrong in the process does, threatening not only the production, but some lives as well. Dave has to do battle with the forces of censorship, budget limitations, extreme weather, his own demons and even a little supernatural interference. Mr. Carley’s writing is clever, with some creative descriptions that waver between very informative high-minded passages and total comic farce with a little wicked punning along the way. The combination of interesting characters, suspense and humour makes the novel memorable and would make an excellent movie.”

Ilana Waldston
 Singer

“I quite enjoyed Rod’s first novel, A Matter of Will- which was funny and insightful. It had elements of fantasy and heist, packaged with great humour and human warmth. But Rod’s really hit his stride with KINMOUNT. His word craft is sophisticated and smooth, his wit is punchy and original. The narrative is warm and engaging– a real page-turner! A Matter of Will was up for a Northern Lit Award– KINMOUNT will take awards, I have no doubt.”

Ted Harrison

“Carley makes Shakespeare fun!
Throughout theatre school I didn’t have the interest or patience to decode the bard’s old-fashioned speak. Much like the rag tag cast of wannabe actors in Kinmount, I too was a hard core bard-o-phobe. What a relief to finally understand something with Shakespearean content! Through-out the pages of this hilarious romp, Carley flexes his teaching muscles and layers in fascinating historical and literary facts. Because of this I have a new found appreciation for the ‘classics.’ Don’t get me wrong, KINMOUNT, in no way reads like a textbook. It is a laugh out loud comedy with enough bizarre and even some paranormal twists to keep you breathlessly turning the pages.”

Carrie Schiffler
Actor/Poet

“A great mix of story and character writing. Loved the characters most of all and the fun feel of the book (a few laugh out loud spots which I always enjoy). Would love to see more of the humour and maybe even some of the same characters in a non- theatre locale :). Great book and best of all I had no idea it was written by a local author when I asked for the book, that was a bonus (the shad fly references had me look it up :).”

Sean Wilson

“Rod Carley’s KINMOUNT takes the reader on trip inside the world of small-town community theatre, with a bit of psychedelia thrown in. Well-drawn and eccentric characters along with plenty of insight into how theatre gets made. I learned a bit about the Bard and enjoyed the sometimes tart commentary on small town life. The tension between art and community values is evergreen and nicely told here. A fun read I would recommend to all.”

David Taylor
Journalist

“This book is a witty, warm-hearted jaunt that had me smiling and often laughing out loud. Rod Carley’s pace and language kept me engaged and connected to the many jovial and wacky, small town characters he depicts with humour and humanity. He gives us a glimpse into “the full catastrophe”, to quote Zorba the Greek, of human nature, creativity and interaction. If you appreciate live theatre (professional or otherwise!), humour, Shakespeare, nature and the ebb and flow of rural life, then I bet you will enjoy the story and characters that Carley has created. Definitely a book to buy for yourself and or as a gift.”

Maria Antonakos
Singer

“Such good fun! Just finished reading Rod Carley’s latest offering, KINMOUNT. Oh, the goings on in the theatre world of small town Ontario! I couldn’t stop smiling as I sped my way through this delightful read. Thanks Rod for brightening my day in these darks times of Covid by bringing to life these zany characters and their antics. KINMOUNT is sure to please.”

Christopher Coyea
Singer/Actor

“This is a very funny read that brought me right back to my journeys through community theatre: the unpredictable roadblocks along the way, and the passion and idiosyncrasies of my fellow travelling companions that you collaborate with (and clash with) on the ride. It’s a roadmap to some great memories told with love and humour.”

Frank Vona
Designer

“Author and theatre director Rod Carley knows his First Folio Shakespeare, and he incorporates a lot of his knowledge into his new novel, KINMOUNT. His protagonist, Dave, heads to the small northern Ontario town of Kinmount to direct an amateur production of “Romeo and Juliet” with only a few misgivings. His rehearsal plans are hilariously upset, as the weather and a (possibly) certifiable producer hamper his efforts at every step. Each actor has, um, “baggage” that makes their particular interpretation of their character unique, and Dave helps each one find the motivation and rhythm of their speech. As the novel unfolds, readers learn more about Dave and his previous theatre experiences, which he is forced to unearth and re-examine if he wishes to triumph. Start the novel because you are a theatre fan, but finish it because you want to know if BJ can carry on without his parrot puppet, Chickpea.”/em>

Lucinda Tooker

“Rod Carley’s KINMOUNT takes the reader on trip inside the world of small-town community theatre, with a bit of psychedelia thrown in. Well-drawn and eccentric characters along with plenty of insight into how theatre gets made. I learned a bit about the Bard and enjoyed the sometimes tart commentary on small town life. The tension between art and community values is evergreen and nicely told here. A fun read I would recommend to all.”

Heather Bakken

A Matter Of Will Reviews

“What a wild RIDE!!! So many sub-stories within the larger lessons that Carley reminds us of. I have to imagine as a first novel, somewhat autobiographical, partly story and definitely a blast to read. Unbelievably well researched and you can tell, written over many YEARS! Can’t wait for the next book Mr. CARLEY!!!”
– Dean Avery

“Built on a solid story with fully rounded characters, it has a distinctly Canadian flavor. Witty, dark, poignant, clever, I read to the end quickly then returned to some scenes to savor more slowly. For those with a knowledge of the Canadian theater world and/or Newfoundland, it has another layer to enjoy. Some scenes are so minimally and perfectly drawn that they would make good theater. I recommend end this book and am anxiously awaiting Rod Carley’s next novel.”
– Gillian Leek

“I really enjoyed the main character’s eclectic experiences. His time fasting on the East Coast was one of my favourite sections. Having Rod read to our book club was wonderful. I’m glad that he’s making an audio book. His East Coast accent added even more humour when reading the words. This is a must read for all – especially Canadians! I would love to see this book on Canada Reads and it should be nominated for Stephen Leacock Humour award. One of my favourite quotes: “ The opposite of fear is love”! Thanks for sharing your many talents Rod.”
– Jodie Nychuk

“This is a rollicking, wild ride filled with comic adventures and pointed truths about life and an actor’s struggle to find meaning. Carley’s protagonist, Will Crosswell, starts out as a young, callow artist filled with notions of grandeur. A couple of hilarious theatrical mishaps land him out in the cold and working in a rough and tumble call center with a cadre of skillfully drawn eccentrics in an extended central episode filled with outrageous incident and riotous dialogue. After a number of less-than-successful love connections, Croswell embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime spiritual pilgrimage to beautiful but freezing cold Newfoundland where he will be tested in ways that allow Carley to explore what it means to be pushed to the limits of endurance – physical and emotional. I especially enjoyed the occasional flashes of (is it or isn’t it?) magic realism in the final third of the novel. Carley demonstrates in his entertaining and imaginative prose how age, experience and ‘crashing and burning’ more than a few times in life can help lead us to a little more wisdom, a little more understanding and a better connection to spirit. Highly recommended!”
– Jeff Miller

“In this fable-like tale, author Rod Carley proves that he has a deft touch with story and character. A Matter of Will takes the reader on a journey that is pure Canadian and thoroughly enjoyable.”
– Norm Foster, Canada’s most produced playwright

“I much admired Carley’s comic mastery. The phantasmagoric scenes of Will Crosswell’s forty Dark Nights of the Soul in Witless Bay, Newfoundland are grotesque comedy such as has been rarely seen in Canadian writing and how refreshing it is! Who but Rod Carley would have invented a spiritual picaresque!”
– John Metcalf, Author, The Museum at the End of the World

“Rod Carley’s terrific ear for dialogue brings the worlds of theatre and telemarketing to life in a breezy picaresque about the spiritual redemption of a dissolute rake.”
– Allan Stratton, The Way Back Home and The Dogs
“A Matter of Will is literate – Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare get equal weight – but never ponderous. Funny, but never trivial. Poignant but never maudlin.”
– Donna Sinclair, Author, The Long View
“A Matter of Will is an unholy mix of Withnail and I, Glengarry Glen Ross, and an east coast kitchen party. Taking us from the Toronto theatre scene in the 1980’s to a remote Newfoundland outport in the present day, it’s the perfect cautionary tale for anybody contemplating a career as a Canadian actor … I’m only sorry I didn’t read it when I was 17; I could have saved myself a lot of trouble.”
– Chris Earle, Playwright, Radio:30

“A wonderful read. Carley writes like he’s recounting a story to a friend in a Tavern – and what a great story it is!”
– Patrick McKenna, Actor

“This is a fun and immersive read. Rod Carley’s humor is quick-witted and visual. Rod paints the scenes beautifully enabling you to truly travel with Will on his personal odyssey. Everyone will enjoy this read but if you are Canadian it adds another complete layer of enjoyment. Buy and read this book, you will not regret it! Mr. Carley’s First Novel Has Won me Over as a Future Loyal Reader.”

– Eric McKenzie

“Well done “b’y”! Did I ever enjoy every line of Mr. Carley’s book. It was hard to believe it’s only his first novel.

I liked this book so much that I actually took the time to mark favorite lines and passages that fairly jumped out and grabbed me. I reread them. I remained thoroughly engrossed as Will triumphs at theater school; begins a promising career in the Canadian theater scene; until everything blows up in his face (his own fault) and he finds himself working at a Toronto call center. But that’s not the end of this story. He goes searching for an epiphany in a freezing Newfoundland outpost.

This novel has an abundance of eccentric and off-beat characters. You’ll read about sex, lies, dysfunctional relationships and shattered dreams.

It offers consistently witty dialogue and heart-wrenching observations of the human condition.

Mr. Carley’s writing compelled me to keep reading. I didn’t want to put this book down, and that’s a rare talent. That’s the main thing avid readers hope for. He delivered. He delivered and I can’t wait to read his next novel.”

– Laura Grealis

“I laughed out loud reading this book. The characters are wonderful and the descriptions create vivid pictures. I recommended this book to my bookclub and everyone loved it!”

– Darlene Laferriere

“Featuring cameos from Margaret Atwood and Saint Peter, Mr. Carley’s A Matter of Will is a facetious and bighearted debut which combines the best traditional Canadian storytelling with a memorable modern voice. It follows the endearingly hapless Will Crosswell through cannibalistic minefields of modern theatre, describes his travails in call centre purgatories, and casts him into Newfoundland backwaters, where he’s gone to seek God.

Will Crosswell’s path to the ministry is both intense and funny, reminiscent of Dostoevsky in places. He sees the clergy life as another means to acting, and travels to Newfoundland, embarking on a 40 day fast in imitation of Christ’s desert journey. The ending strains credulity, but satisfies.

Replete with memorable characters, A Matter of Will’s dialogue particularly shines, recalling writers like Mordecai Richler and Douglas Coupland. Mr. Carley’s decades of theatre experience are nowhere more evident than in his command of accents. His take on cubicle culture is hilarious, depressing, and ultimately accurate. Hopefully, he will revisit the call centre setting in future work.

Funny, entertaining, and heartfelt, A Matter of Will is an excellent addition to Canadian canon.”

– Chris Fash

“A genuine and unsettling cautionary tale describing a life in the theatre and a must-read for anyone foolish or misguided enough to be considering it.”

– Paul Thompson, Canadian playwright and theatre director

“Rod Carley’s book, A Matter Of Will is a delightfully wicked romp that follows the eponymous Will on a journey that is always fascinating, unexpected, and, at times, hilarious. Rod Carley’s language is as colorful as the characters he has created.”
– Peter Colley, Playwright

“A Matter of Will is a tip of the hat to such literary lions as Robertson Davies and Mordecai Richler. Carley’s novel draws on their inspirations and themes and mashes them up, bringing his own unique take. A Matter of Will travels through five decades, taking us from the sixties to the aughts and beautifully takes us back to the Canada of those times. A Matter of Will is a nostalgic journey through Canada’s artistic and physical landscape that ends in a uniquely Canadian story of redemption.”
– Derek Diorio, Producer/Director/Co-writer of Hard Rock Medical