Kurt Hutterli, Oliver 3-D artist and member of the RipOff Artists, has a few other artistic talents up his sleeve. In act, in his home country of Switzerland, he is perhaps better known as a playwright and an author. His new book was recently launched in Bern with the title: When the Wine God Comes to Aurora, and subtitled “The Records of Cafe Owner Roberto (Bob) Sotto“. The dust cover summary hints that Kurt might be infusing his novel with some sly references to a certain rural town in BC.
Retired SOSS languages teacher Brita Park translates the dust jacket for us:
Roberto (Bob) Sotto, has made a mess of his life in Toronto, where his two marriages as well as his career as radio announcer have failed. His 84 year-old mother is thrilled to learn that her son has decided to return home, to the small town of Aurora, in rural British Columbia, which had become the safe haven for her and her husband when they immigrated to Canada from war-torn Italy after World War Two, more than half a century earlier. Roberto moves in with mom, becomes the manager of Aurora’s “Black Ink Cafeteria”, makes new friends, and even starts a new romantic relationship.
A particular joy for Roberto is reconnecting with childhood buddy Andy, with whom he shares many memories of growing up in the former gold-mining town turned agricultural gem, now surrounded by lush vineyards on all the valley slopes. The two of them hit upon the idea to write a play in honour of their home town. The working title is : “Dionysius, God of Wine, Arrives in Aurora”.
Living with his elderly mother is not all sweetness and light for Roberto, however, as tensions arise over a potential move out of the old family home. While tidying up the neglected basement, Roberto stumbles upon an old suitcase containing three blue notebooks. They turn out to be journals written by his mother when she was sixteen years old and still living in the Italian border city of Domodossola in 1944. Secretly reading her personal diary, Roberto finds himself growing closer to his mother than ever before–all the while struggling with how to broach with her the sensitive topics that are contained within those pages.
This work of fiction has the reader looking through multiple frames and multiple lenses at how life in present day small-town, rural B.C. intersects with a complex past in the final years of a devastating war in Domodossola.
Now, if only the whole book could be translated into English so we living in Oliver — ummm… “Aurora”– could read about our fictionalized town and people.
Photo Credit: Penelope Johnson