Catherine Graham, who holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University (UK), teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and is the author of four critically acclaimed poetry collections.
She studied with Alistair MacLeod who described her as a “uniquely wonderful” writer “whose insights will soon inspire the world.”
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Reader's Reviews for Quarry
Caitlin Maharg is only 19 when her mother dies. Her teenage years of swimming in her beloved limestone quarry, of summer jobs, of lust and longing are played out against the drumbeat of her mother’s painful and inexorable death.
Permeating the atmosphere is Caitlin’s uneasy relationship with her doting father Don, a handsome salesman, a “romancer” who prefers fabrication to truth. Caitlin’s grandmother, a toxic presence in the sickroom, is cold, disdainful of Don, and vengeful. She is the guardian of the family secret which she will wield like a cudgel.
But the winsome Caitlin is not without resources on her path to maturity. A caring boyfriend at university, and a relationship with a married professor offer shelter. And there is Linda, her father’s girlfriend who is there for her when tragedy strikes again and Don is killed in an auto accident.
In time, seeking to honor her parents’ wishes to be buried together, Caitlin summons the confidence to confront her grandmother in a scene that explodes the bitter secret to a fine powder.
Catherine Graham, a poet with a gift for comic drama, layers her tale like the open pit mine for which the novel is named. Don takes Caitlin to New York for father-daughter bonding after her mother’s death, but then allows Linda to join them in the same room where they form an awkwardly shaped triangle. Graham’s dark humor also is evident in scenes of Caitlin’s freshman year with her roommate who is known for “room service.”
Graham weaves spare, lyrically-charged prose to create a hypnotic coming-of-age story of loss, family shame, illicit relationships, and, finally, affirmation. In Caitlin, she has given us a brave young woman, forged by flawed, loving parents who have sent her into the world alone but strong.