Food for Summer from Meredith Quartermain


Here’s some food for summer reflection from Meredith Quartermain:

People Who Disappear by Alex Leslie (Freehand)

Stories of the highly invisible among us: a young man known only through traces on YouTube, a first nations woman whose skeleton is unearthed by children, a young man suffering from mental illness, scrounging for furniture, communities living in the tops of trees, trying to save the forest. Quirky unusual tellings, insightful and deeply felt, these narratives remind us of our complicity in the tragedies we hear about in the news.

The Autobiography of Childhood by Sina Queyras (Coach House)

Prose by a poet is often the most poignant, and childhood is the writer’s deepest wellspring. Queyras plunges way into a territory we all share – the dysfunctional family. In the space of a single day in which one of them is dying of cancer, five siblings struggle with the legacy of their parents’ stormy relationship, living out their stubborn individual searches for escape or meaning. Queyras shows us that poetry lives in the pain of their disparate journeys.

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower by Marcel Proust

Even if you haven’t read volume one of the Proust magnum opus, you will be swept away by this new translation of the second volume by James Grieve. You will laugh out loud at the foibles of the late teens, early 20s Marcel in his love affairs, and at his meticulous observation of middle-class mannerisms. Since most of the book takes place at Cabourg on the Normandy coast where Marcel is busy chasing girls on the beach, it makes perfect summer reading. His sentences are amazing; and he shows beyond a doubt how life is not lived until it’s reflected upon.

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald

Sebald may blur the boundaries of fact and fiction in his narratives of rambling around East Anglia, but he never blurs the truth about forces of nature and the forces of humanity on the planet. His vision of human interdependence is global, linking a train in an English amusement park to a 19th Century Dowager Empress in China, the fortunes of English manor houses, the destruction of the herring fishery, the economic wars of silk manufacturers and many other marvelous serendipities of human history. What emerges is the melancholy poetry of human destructiveness, particularly in the last two centuries, and the beautiful dream of what humanity could mean.

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Meredith Quartermain

Meredith Quartermain's Vancouver Walking won the 2006 BC Book Award for Poetry; Nightmarker was a finalist for the 2009 Vancouver Book Award; and Recipes from the Red Planet was a finalist for the 2011 BC Book Award for fiction.