Literary Arts: Book Review
The Lure of Cold Shivers Point
Monument Road by Charlie Quimby
A single decision, for good or ill, casts innumerable ripples, and if those ripple effects could be seen on a macro-level they would reveal a curious web of interconnection: concentric circles, intersecting and intermingling, in-turn creating ripples that again overlap one another to create a pattern, a map. If circumstances align, a situation is created where a ghost map of the interconnectedness surfaces.
Charlie Quimby explores the idea of a ghost map in his novel, Monument Road, which creates a narrative ghost map of central Colorado, the fulcrum being the National Monument, near Monument, Colorado, particularly Cold Shivers Point, a mountain cliff overlooking the precipitous Columbus Canyon and Grand Valley.
Joe Sampson, returning native son of Monument is granted the opportunity to see the ripple effects of his decisions made as a teenager, on a macro-level, and struggles with the knowledge of his own location on the “map.”
Revealed through a reporting assignment for the local newspaper, The Clarion, Joe stumbles upon his part in the web of connections created by childhood friend Helen Vavoris, suspected serial killer Nuelan Kornhauer, a young foster boy, Hardy Crimmins Jr., and Leonard Self, a ranch owner contemplating suicide. All of them have a curious connection to the cliff.
Struggling with the desire for redemption, Joe again connects himself to The Point by cycling up and down Monument Road, seeking for his moment to prevent a suicide from occurring at the Monument, or to arrive at the scene of the fatal occurrence just in time—anything to placate his troubled mind.
Joe is a secondary character in the novel, and does not appear on the scene until far into the narrative, but similar to the portentous Point, Joe Sampson’s story becomes the fulcrum upon which the novel pivots.
Quimby’s main character, Leonard Self, carries the bulk of the narrative, as he travels the ghost map of Monument Road while carrying his wife’s ashes. Struggling to maintain control, grieving the loss of his wife Inetta, Leonard contemplates suicide on the one-year anniversary of his wife’s death. Traveling from his home to The Point in his pickup truck, he plans to end his own life while spreading his wife’s ashes in the Monument.
As Joe pieces together the past, and Leonard makes his way along the same road, the lives of Quimby’s characters reveal a gemeinschaft, or community of shared culture which rises to the surface through mutual experience. The gemeinschaft of Monument, the town, has been shaped by traditional social mores, small schools and churches, and a strong economic and cultural tie to the land, particularly to The Point.
Although Quimby does not directly address the effect of the landscape on the characters’ despair and the actions that follow, he addresses the epidemic of suicides, culturally created, through a lucid moment of Joe Sampson.
"Out here there was too much country and too few timely Samaritans. In the real world, hurting souls could easily place themselves on invisible cliffs in unreachable places—intentions cloaked most of all from those closest to them….Almost every week and sometimes more than once, the newspaper had to decide whether to acknowledge that someone else in the valley had found a doorway out” (338).
That doorway out, is mysteriously connected to Cold Shivers Point.
The power of the novel lies in its ability to cause the reader to acknowledge the possibility of a ghost map in their own lives. However, a sense of helplessness in the face of consequence is ineludible here, as the characters don’t achieve the self-redemption they seem so desperately to need. Quimby attempts to present an emerging possibility of self-redemption, as Leonard discovers that it’s “the being, [and] not the been,” (365) that’s important, along with the presentation of a positive spin on the life of Leonard’s wife Inetta. While the effects of Inetta’s life are well chronicled in the novel, they are overshadowed by the negative trappings of the Point on the social landscape of the community.
While not exactly a happy novel, Monument Road is beautiful and real, full of landscape imagery of the American Southwest as a poignant and sometimes haunting metaphor of our connections to the land.
Up and Upcoming: To The North
Exhibition Listings in Northern Utah
MEYER GALLERY UP: Featuring work by seven new artists, including two from Artists of Utah's 35x35 exhibition. MaryFran Cardamore: a sudden interest in horticulture and a lifetime of creativity combine to create these lovely, unexpected multi-media records of the plants all around us. Maddison Colvin: Meticulous cluster paintings by one of the 35x35 artists. Caitlin Connelly: beautiful, emotional, spiritual oil paintings on panel; always people, usually women, with the influences of Gustav Klimt (another 35x35). Gwen Davidson: mixed media landscape on canvas, a collage of painted paper; she veers toward abstraction with colors absolutely true to nature; architectural and geological. Rebecca Haines: paintings of wildlife as we might see the critters in our dreams; a little scary, a little humorous, with a lush, rich coloration. Howard Hitchcock: a sculptor working since the 1950s yet currently producing work that is so up-to-the minute it is appropriate in the most contemporary settings. Kate Rivers: Complicated nests made from the mundane scraps of our world, arcana wound and bound into the complexity that is our modern life.
Kimball Art Center UP: Cities, Circuits, or Cilia? Michael Amici, Jr. turned himself into a porcupine by drawing quills on his entire body at age 4, then it was a gum, hair, toothpick dodecahedron sculpture on the side of his mother’s head. A canvas for Michael could be a wall or bed sheet, a safety helmet or a microwave oven. What is shown at the Kimball Art Center are works that made it onto paper or canvas, some collage, some acrylic, some walnut and India ink, some resin and some pieces with as much art on the back as on the front. AND: The Kimball Art Center Members’ Pin Up Show is a non-juried exhibition and sale open to artists who are 18+ years of age. AND: Painters of the Wasatch Mountains, a retrospective exhibit, drawn from the 2005 collector’s book Painters of the Wasatch Mountains and produced in a collaboration with the Utah Museum of Art and History, is a survey of the gamut of painters who formed and have carried forward an expression of nature's mighty gift to both visitors and residents of Utah.
JULIE NESTER GALLERY UP: From Polaroids to Photograms. This group exhibition includes the work of six photographers: Debra Bloomfield, Nine Francois, Susan Friedman, David Levinthal, Milano Liberi, Vanessa Marsh and James Sparshatt.
GALLERY MAR UP: FIVE, fifth anniversary show featuring work by gallery artists.
DISTRICT GALLERY UP: New Works by Caleb Meyer.
BOUNTIFUL/DAVIS ART CENTER UP: Northern Utah Landscapes featuring select works by LeConte Stewart and Everett Reuss. Additionally, there will be paintings depicting northern Utah landscape by 22 invited artists. These paintings will feature areas in which LeConte Stewart may have painted in northern Utah. AND: A father-daughter exhibit will feature Don Prys and his daughter Jodi Steen.
Eccles Community Art Center UP: Local photographer, Larry Carr celebrates his 75th year with an exhibit of 75 photographs, featuring present and past looks at Ogden as well as images from the artist's travels. The art center will also be exhibiting Salt Lake artist, Victoria Acoba’s porcelain teapots, including singly formed petals, leaves and knobs that are combined to create beautiful organic keepsakes. And Ogden artist Reed Loveland paintings that play with the concepts of color, form and texture.
Gallery 25 UP: Lucile Chamberlain’s show will be a journey into variety: her oil and watercolor paintings feature florals, landscapes, still life, portraits and abstract work. Also on exhibit, paintings by Pam Hains including water scenes, sunsets, landscapes, buildings, florals, animals, people, and Mormon temples.
Brigham City Museum UP: Utah Plein Air 2013 Juried Art Exhibition.
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art UP: Female + Form, a selection of works from the museum's permanent collection embracing a diverse range of forms and showcasing work by important women artists. AND: New Acquisitions 2013 features nine works of art recently donated to the museum by the late Joe Austin including works by Alison Saar, Charles Gaines, Dewain Valentine and Peter Shire. AND: LUX, exploring how artists have used light as a medium or subject, including several large pieces by artists featured in the Pacific Standard Time exhibition from Los Angeles who are considered to be leaders of the light and space art movement of the 1970s.