Tainted Treats

by harperjamie

To many readers, the collection of Meredith Quartermain’s works featured in the fall 2010 edition of The Capilano Review, “The Not of What She Didn’t Know”, leaves much to be desired. The writing style of Ms. Quartermain is one that allows a readers mind to wander, ultimately allowing one to develop their own sense of character through subtle clues weaved throughout. The almost un-structured writing style of Quartermain – to the unimaginative reader – can serve as an extreme source of frustration and confusion. Quartermain seems to take an alternative approach to character incorporation such as the way she uses ones conscience as a seemingly real antagonist in “A Marijuana Stalk”. Quartermain incorporates what she calls the “narrator” into the story and allows it to take on human like qualities, such as how he, the narrator is “afraid to set foot on the frosty planks of the floating dock” (50).

Although Quartermain generally opts to not allow numerous characters in her writing, each character seems to be carefully placed and brilliantly developed through the use of invisible clues. Quartermain fails to ever formally develop, introduce, or elaborate on the character’s appearance or personality; rather Quartermain uses societal stereotypes to perform such acts, as seen in “A Marijuana Stalk”. To many, including myself, the image that is created when Quartermain refers to how a “woodsman cuts [the marijuana stalk] down and hangs it to dry in his cabin, pocketing his pipe and some hashish” (50) is clear; the picture that I had been led to create in my mind leaves me with an almost seamless idea of the characters image, personality and setting. Quartermain has taken advantage of the wide spread societal stereotypes in order to not only allow her characters to develop and grow to who she has envisioned, but also to leave the reader with a sense of freedom in the story development.

Not only does Quartermain utilize these societal stereotypes extensively in “A Marijuana Stalk”, but also even more so in “Hotel Narrative”. What some may consider as having an absent purpose or plot Quartermain is able to showcase her innate ability of character and plot development through the use of unidentifiable clues.  As a reader, I am able to sift through the endless amounts of short sentences, poor grammar and overall confusing dialogue to create a mental image. The re-occurring key words that Quartermain uses allows the readers to use their own mind, ultimately leaving them with a taste of the drivers seat.

Although Quartermain’s work does not contain obviously explicit material, it should be viewed only after serious consideration and possibly under adult supervision (L’amante anglaise). Her work not only can provide hours of intellectually stimulating thought, but to the imaginatively disabled it can be the spark to hours of mental toil and unrest ultimately growing to insanity caused by over frustration. If you fall into this last category, please refrain from indulging yourself with these tainted treats unless prepared with an instruction/decoding manual (which I would love to have forwarded to me).


One Comment to “Tainted Treats”

  1. Hahaha very humourous and perceptive review. The concluding paragraph had me laughing as I could relate entirely. Fab writing.

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