Fear the Mirror by Cora Siré

Just as I enjoy works that have ambiguous endings, I also like works that have ambiguous genres. Fear the Mirror by Cora Siré has a simple “Stories,” on the front cover, but the contents of the stories are far more intriguing. Part essays, part memoirs, part short stories, Siré progressively mixes details of her own life with her fiction, blurring the lines between the facts of her life and the fictional portraits she creates. The first few stories of this collection, “Fear the Mirror,” “What Peaches & What Penumbras!,” and “Rusalka” start with Siré’s life, gradually stepping more and more into the world of fiction and poetry. While the titular “Fear the Mirror” reads as more of a true memoir, Rusalka begins the true departure of Siré’s book into fiction, essays, and other thoughts.

“This is a small but impactful book.”

The daughter of Estonian immigrants, Siré was born in Canada, with ties to Brazil, while her partner is Argentinian. The stories in Fear the Mirror travel these countries, bringing us into the complex world of a person who is caught between many cultures, has travelled greatly, and is uncertain about the idea of home. This is a persistent theme throughout the stories and essays in this collection: what is home? A time? A place?

While each of the stories in Fear the Mirror are strong by themselves, with compelling characters and situations – one that shines particularly is Virgilia, the main character of “The Mark,” a fourth-year undergraduate student who plays backgammon to earn a little bit of extra money, eyeing down who she feels are easy targets to get a few dollars out of – what is most interesting about Fear the Mirror and Siré’s writing is her playing with form and language. The memoir pieces are lyrical, tiptoeing toward poetry, while in “Pueblo Chico, Infierno Grande,” Siré tells the story of her first visit to her partner’s family in Argentina in the third person, watching “Corita,” struggle through feeling out of place and uncomfortable with the tension between her partner’s family wanting him to return home to take over the family business.

See also  At The End of It All: Stories From the Shadows by Suzanne Craig-Whytock

This is a small but impactful book. I was drawn into the worlds, fictional and non-fictional, and their fuzzy boundaries. I wasn’t always clear if the story was about Siré’s life, or fiction but was quickly brought around to the idea that it didn’t matter. Siré gives equal weight to the memoir pieces and the fiction pieces, and they bleed seamlessly into one another. Unassuming but thoughtful, this was a pleasant read.

Cora Siré is the author of two works of fiction and two poetry collections. Her novel Behold Things Beautiful was a finalist for the QWF’s Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Fiction Prize in 2017. Her stories, essays and poems have been published in many anthologies and magazines in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Based in Montréal, she often writes of elsewheres, drawing on encounters in faraway places and her family history of displacement.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Esplanade Books (Sept. 29 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1550655779
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1550655773