Katherine is a strange Bronx girl who "hears" the voices of the constellations. Abetted by a building super and a disgraced NASA administrator, she becomes a revered faith healer, only to be betrayed by her inner voice, when it tells her to have a child.
Set in eras ranging from the sixties to the near future, Simon's stories blend sexual tension, religious feeling, intellect and madness into a compelling brew. In a senior-living facility, a man plots murder with a woman he believes to be a famous author. A philosophy professor and her boyfriend contemplate suicide. Their every move followed by cameras, the contestants in a reality show need to complete a "main task," but no one knows what it is. After years on the run from the F.B.I., a bank robber enters a monastery, while his lover/accomplice stews in boredom.
In the words of one of Simon's characters: "The sacred and the profane lie close together, separated by the thinnest membrane, almost nothing." Breeching this boundary, The Ballad of St. Katherine presents a fascinating set of personalities, some slain by their obsessions, others able to come to terms with their lives, or their deaths.