Hotel NarrativeThe narratives that make up Vancouver writer Meredith Quartermain's Recipes from the Red Planet (Toronto ON: BookThug, 2010), exist as electric and eccentric prose-poems, pushing deeper against the blur between forms than much of the more poem-specific works of her previous trade collections. The pieces in Recipes from the Red Planet seem to exist as a sequence of striking, nimble texts, employing shifts amid the blur between poems and short stories in lovely, errant prose. Her prose-poems begin from a foundation of uncertainty and the possibility of all things, exploring their ways further out. These are poems that know far more than you do, and manage the strangest and most logical connections through their magnificent range. After watching Quartermain map out her archives of language through books such as Matter (BookThug, 2008), The Eye-Shift of Surface (Greenboathouse Books, 2003) and Spatial Relations (Diaeresis, 2001) to mapping the archives of her geography, strolling her immediate up and down west coast of Nightmarker (NeWest Press, 2008) and Vancouver Walking (NeWest Press, 2005), Recipes from the Red Planet reads as a more fluid continuation of A Thousand Mornings (Nomados, 2002), broadening her scope entirely. Produced as BookThug's "Department of Narrative Studies No. 4," accompanied by a striking series of graphics by New York City artist Susan Bee, this new work maps out an archive of something far deeper and abstract than Quartermain's previous writing, and something far more difficult to name. Even her geographies shift, as in the piece "Dear Post-Land," possibly referring her Ontario origins behind her current Vancouver locale, starting:
She said and he thought and he did and she thought and he said and she did and they thought and I went and they said and you heard and we saw and they wanted and she didn't think and you didn't see and I felt and he liked and we said we couldn't tell. Said Mr. Narrator to Mrs. Narrator. Said trialogue. And Mrs. Narrator thought Mr. Narrator thought Lady Agonist thought Mr. Narrator. Said Lord Agonist to the psychiatrist thought Mr. Narrator. Lacked character said Lady Agonist said Mrs. Narrator thought Lord Agonist. Are you for or against Agonist said Mrs. Narrator to the dog thought Mr. Narrator against Lady Agonist's thigh. I wanted Mr. Narrator to think Lady Agonist felt Mrs. Narrator had Mr. Narrator by the. Her Ladyship felt Lord Agonist didn't. Behind the ears then under a nipple inserted in her pocket. Thought Mrs. Narrator. Would your Lordship care for some. Bushes near a lake, mound at a mineshaft, peak with an outing. Bottoms up her Ladyship's butter, we said. And breadfruit. Is your Lordship out. They think he's in. Mr. Narrator. Thought I. Said Mrs. Narrator. His Lordship's out of pocket. Her Ladyship's innuendo. He's out to lunch. She's ins and outs. He's in futuro incognito. Out of debt. Incomplete. Mrs. Narrator dreamt her Ladyship's buttons wanted setting forth to switchboard for room service his Lordship. Keeps falling asleep. Said Mr. Narrator. Thought Mrs. Narrator. Don't tell me I'm fresh towel check-out his Lordship. Said her Ladyship's buttony TV. Thought. Mrs. Narrator. You're going to soap the doorman I wanted to this morning. Do you have a reservation we could telephone. Mr. Narrator's bellhop. Not that that would. The black that that she mailed that you said we'd already said. Said Mrs. Narrator thought his Lordship. Not that. The other that that I said Lady Agonist said she'd like to have felt. Not that.
I'm from Ontario but where am I addressed to? and where's Ontario from? Can it return there with address unknown? If Ontario goes back where it came from, where will I be? Can I still write to you from there?