Meredith Quartermain’s ten-piece collection of micro-fictions, “The Not of What She Didn’t Know,” has a fresh, unique flow. This contemporary literature blurs the boundaries between micro-fiction and poetry and captivates the reader in the dreamlike settings. The illuminating word choice sheds light on interwoven ideals, for example, “A thousand hurricanes thrashed inside the snare.”
Meredith Quartermain is a Vancouver-based poet whose writings force readers to critically think outside the box. Her collection “The Not of what She Didn’t know” is composed of micro fictions which take the readers to another planet. It consists of various stories with ideas that range from architectural comparison of ants and humans to acts of taboo. The title from her newest book, “Recipes From The Red Planet” closely relates her writings as she seems to be looking from another point of view: alien. Her ambiguous writings can lead to arguments on what she is actually trying to imply. One reader may view the narrative in a completely opposite sense from another. For example, one could take the “Marijuana Stalk” passage as a mother – son relationship highlighting rebellious actions and defiance. However, it could also be understood that the main character repeats a certain action to “get away” from his troubles. The descriptive, intense, and bewildering choice of words can often leave readers confused. “Hotel narrative” is one of the most difficult pieces I’ve ever read because of its literary structure and unclear plot. Someone who does not have the urge or capability to think out of the box will easily be frustrated by Quartermains work. The sense of feeling and smell is present in most of the writings and will give readers a central image but it is also fogged at the same time because of the unique situations. This collection of Quartermains work might leave some readers with unanswered questions as to either what her point is or alternatively, why she is making such abnormal writings. The language throughout is very descriptive and imaginative catching the reader’s eye at first, but then evolves into difficult sentence and plot structures which leave readers perplexed. However, upon a second reading and closer analysis and breakdown, much of the first hit confusion is relieved. Quartermains work challenges even the most experienced readers to go above and beyond regular reading and analysis to fully comprehend her literature writing styles. Her creative approach to writing allows readers to somewhat determine their own ending and interpretations which can and will lead to interesting and exciting discussions.
Meredith Quartermain is a Vancouver-based poet who focuses on our planet, urban life, and it’s relationship to history. Having taught contemporary literature and writing at the University of British Columbia and Capilano University, Quartermain has still found the time to create and be an editor of “The News”, a west coast literary website. Quartermain and her husband run Nomandos Literary Publishers, centered in Vancouver. The group of micro fictions and prose poems written by Quartermain published in The Capilano Review 3.12 embodies all characteristics of well written flash fiction. The short stories, collectively titled “The Not of What She Didn’t Know” come from Quartermain’s “Recipes From The Red Planet”, a book of mind jolting short stories. Since her writings are completed roughly around 100 words, readers are immediately intrigued to dive in and provide their full attention. All exerts from “Recipes From The Red Planet” are written by Quartermain to have comparable themes, and be able to flow together by sharing many similar traits. Although every micro fiction is short, each piece is still able to represent a full story from beginning to end, allowing readers to bond with the characters. Quartermain puts her readers in a position from the outside, as if they are listening in on a nearby conversation or watching a television show. In micro fictions titled “L’amante l’anglaise” and “A Disagreement Over Lunch”, Quartermain allows her readers to feel as if they are eavesdropping on conversations between characters. While in “My Agency” it is as though the reader is given a continuous stream of the thoughts taking place in the main character’s mind. The simplicity of Quartermain’s writing in some cases may have a confusing effect on her audience, by then forcing the reader to further contemplate and digest the ideas initially intended to be portrayed by the author. If Quartermain’s purpose of these short stories is to entice readers with an interesting open subject, then to leave them thinking – she has done a marvelous job. The font and spacing in which Quartermain’s flash fiction is printed is easy on the eyes for readers and will attract all audiences.
The Capilano Review 3.12
Meredith Quartermain’s Collective Work;
‘The Not of What She Didn’t Know’
In today’s ever increasing online society of Twitter and blogging communities where it has become commonplace for anybody to be an ‘author’ several times a day in two hundred characters or less there is a struggle for space and people’s time. In the same way that newspapers use reactionary headings to draw potential customers in, it has become the norm to use excessively emotionally titles or infobursts to gain a reader’s attention in attempt to simply have a voice; for what is a writer without a reader?
After reading Meredith Quartermain’s collection of nanofiction from The Not Of What She Didn’t Know, I was really confused. But after reading it several more times, I finally understood the themes in these nanofictions. Quartermain successfully creates pieces that are intriguing and entertaining. The different pieces in this collection cover many different themes, such as power struggles, conflicts and relationships. Although Quartermain explores different ideas and themes in each nanofiction, there are also similarities between the pieces. For example, the characters in all the pieces are never explicitly introduced. In “Hotel Narrative”, not only are the characters not formally introduced, but the number of characters in that piece is not even clearly established.
Although many of her nanofictions are equally interesting, I found “L’amante anglaise” to be my favourite out of the entire collection. In “L’amante anglaise”, the plot is fairly straightforward, but the implications behind the text are rather intriguing. Although this piece is confusing at first glance, especially with all the French terms, but once the theme is made clear, this nanofiction can be very entertaining. In this nanofiction, the author does not formally introduce the characters but essentially there are two female characters having a conversation, which turns into an argument, but reconciles at the end.
Being a Canadian writer, Meredith Quartermain expresses the theme of Nationalism in Canada with this short nanofiction. For example, Quartermain interweaves English and French words throughout her piece to depict the bilingualism in Canada. Quartermain also illustrates the struggles between the French and English speaking communities in early Canadian history by the conversation and the argument the two characters are having.
The first time I read this nanofiction I was very confused because I was unfamiliar with French. With all the French words infused into the piece, I had no choice but to look up the foreign vocabularies. Without a doubt, this step was very time consuming. But on hindsight, the definitions of the French words are not of importance. What intrigues me is how Quartermain expresses Nationalism by combining English and French to create an overall effect of unity that mirrors Canada’s history. For a fact, “L’amante anglaise” is a very entertaining piece of writing. With the alternating English and French words, it easily grabs the reader’s attention.
“L’amante anglaise” can be a hard piece to indulge in with just one reading. But after grasping the main theme, it is easy to enjoy and appreciate Quartermain’s attempt to add unique twists in her writing.