Award-winning author Meredith Quartermain’s second novel and seventh book, U Girl, is a coming-of-age story set in Vancouver in 1972, a city crossed between love-in hip and forest-corp square.
Frances Nelson escapes her small-town background to attend first-year university in the big city. "You’ve got to find the great love," her new friend Dagmar tells her. But what makes it love instead of sex? And what kind of love bonds friends? She gleans surprising answers from Jack, a construction worker, Dwight, a mechanic and dope peddler, Carla, a bar waitress who’s seen better days, and her English professor and sailing friend, Nigel.
U Girl blurs the line between fiction and reality as Frances begins to write a novel about the people she comes to know. With seamless metafictional play and an engagement with place that has come to be Quartermain’s definitive style, U Girl tells the story of a woman’s struggle to be taken seriously – to be equal to men despite her sexual attraction to them, and to dislodge accepted narratives of gender and class in the institution of the university during the "free love" era. In this sprawling and perceptive novel, Quartermain takes us through sexual experimentation, drugs, jobs, meditating on Wreck Beach, sailing up through Desolation Sound, and studying at the University of British Columbia.
U Girl is a story that pays homage to local haunts and literary influences in equal measure. Quartermain brings to Canadian literature a wholesome and vital female perspective in this long-awaited bildungsroman.
Meredith Quartermain is known across Canada for her award-winning, cross-genre writing. Vancouver Walking won the BC Book Award for poetry Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, Nightmarker was a finalist for the Vancouver Book Award, and Recipes from the Red Planet, her book of flash-fictions, was a finalist for a BC Book Prize. In Rupert’s Land, her first novel, a town girl helps a residential-school runaway in Alberta in the 1930s.
Quartermain was the 2012 Writer in Residence at the Vancouver Public Library, where she led workshops on songwriting and writing about neighborhoods, and enjoyed doing manuscript consultations with many writers from the Greater Vancouver community. She’s now continuing these activities as Poetry Mentor in the Writer’s Studio Program at Simon Fraser University.
She has taught English at the University of British Columbia and Capilano College and led workshops at the Naropa Summer Writing Program, the Kootenay School of Writing, and the Toronto New School of Writing.
“Meredith Quartermain, however and as always, cannot disappoint with her new novel, U Girl. Recognition of Quartermain’s versatility leads to astonishment at her oeuvre. The contrast is sharp, for instance, between the dreamy flights of the poetic prose in I, Bartleby (her prior book, marketed as a collection of short stories) and the curt, realist prose of U Girl, which exhibits great restraint in the writing and shows Quartermain’s flexibility and mastery of her craft.”
“Quartermain has truly outdone herself this time. … This bildungsroman is an extraordinary new addition to Canadian literature … Readers should prepare themselves for a tidal wave of emotion, reflection, and new perceptions when they dive into Quartermain’s latest masterpiece.” – Ubyssey
“As a meta-narrative about the process of writing a novel, U Girl succeeds … On the one hand, we have a universal coming-of-age story, and on the other, the vivid local setting rich in its use of detail. … In the end, we are drawn convincingly into Frances’s world.”
“Quartermain takes her readers through the lens of a young woman challenging her small town looking glass with a much wider angle...Much like [the protagonist, Frances’s] characters in her novel [within the novel], the pace and lessons of life are far from stagnant and [Frances] continues to forge on to a new frontier.” —Pacific Rim Review of Books