BOOK PERSON | Vol. 18

Metafiction with poet Meredith Quartermain

A couple times each year Vancouver will really dazzle you with gorgeous weather to make up for all the rain: flowers coming up in February, t-shirt temperatures in October. This past week has felt like pure blue-sky summer, and last night I biked home from the park at 9:00pm and felt the day’s warmth rising up from the asphalt.

This week I haven’t been reading much, to be honest. I got The Transmigration of Bodies on Jorge’s recommendation, and I’ve been dipping into The Upstairs House, recommended by my sister, which is a ghost story featuring queer icon and Goodnight Moon author Margaret Wise Brown. Serendipitously, my friend Erin sent me a podcast about Brown too, which I loved listening to on my walks this week.

I also wrote a couple things: this interview about NXIVM and cult psychology with Sarah Berman (buy her book!), and also this piece on birth control and blood clot risk for Romper.

This week I’m delighted to share a short but perfect edition of BOOK PERSON, featuring poet and novelist Meredith Quartermain.

Where are you from, and where do you live now?

Lands of the Mississauga, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat. Now I'm on the lands of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh.

Describe your literary tastes.

Eclectic, enjoy poetry of all forms, philosophy, novels, ecology, economics.

What are the last five books you read?

Cecily Nicholson, From the Poplars, and Wayside Sang
Colin Browne, Here
Louis Cabri, Hungry Slingshots
Agata Tuszynska, Family History of Fear

Do you keep track of what you read?

I tried to log a lot of them on Goodreads but I couldn't keep up with the micromanagement.

What book is next to your bed right now?

Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind.

What was your favourite book as a child?

Grimm's Fairy Tales. Can't remember quotes but I do remember that the ugly sister fetching water who was kind to the stranger at the well got the gold.

Do you have a beloved under-the-radar author who you think more people should read?

Doretta Lau, How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun. Smart quirky thoughtful stories from a deeply thoughtful writer.

What's your comfort read?

Whatever novel I've got stuck into. Especially these days I find a good novel gives me a world I can escape to, and it's important to escape. History and philosophy will do that too.

Which book has your favourite ending?

The last section of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, the section called Time Regained where he talks about artistic practice and quite literally captures the movement of time reflected in the lives of his aging characters .

What book would you give someone if you wanted them to really understand you?

The eight books I have written: Vancouver Walking, Matter, Nightmarker, Recipes from the Red Planet, Rupert's Land, I, Bartleby, U Girl, and Lullabies in the Real World.

What is the funniest book you have ever read?

Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed your opinion about something?

These books really opened my eyes to the history we are still living: Daniel Paul, We Were Not the Savages; and James Baldwin, Collected Essays.

If you were to add your own reading-related question, what would it be?

What is your favourite metafiction? My answers: Enrique Vila-Matas’s Montano's Malady, Bartleby and Co, and Dublinesque.

Reader’s choice

My favourite metafiction is Cloud Atlas, and also its spiritual ancestor, If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler. I would also love to know yours! But since it’s so nice outside, what I really want to know is: what books are you taking to the park? Tell me all about them.