Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Mirage" by Valerie Sirr

"Mirage" by Valerie Sirr (2012, 4 pages)

Irish Short Story Week Year Two
March 11 to July 1

Valerie Sirr

My Prior Posts for ISSW Year Two

Posts on Emerging Irish Women Writers

Posts by Participants

  “Funny how other people's things are always more interesting than one's own.”  

  “And their lives,” the woman’s voice trailed off. “Other peoples' lives...  

Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week, now set to end July 1.  Valerie Sirr is the eighth  Emerging Irish Woman Writer that has now been featured.  I can only partially predict the future of the book blog world but I bet if somebody does an Irish Short Story Week in 2032 some of these writers will for sure be on the list.  (An explanation for my focus on women writers is here.)  I had at first planned just to make this a one week event but now it will be a recurring motif of Irish Short Story Week Year Two.

"Mirage" by Valerie Sirr is a brilliant story about a woman caught between two worlds and about the price she pays for security and calm domesticity and the price her friend pays for the illusion of freedom.  Everyone is trapped by a mirage, maybe we can see through the mirages of others but not our own.  These are some of the motifs of  "Mirage", a story that cuts through layers of self-deception.   Both women in the story are used by and use the men in their lives.   Each one gets part of what they want.   One sort of knows it is a trap, the other seems a bit clueless, or maybe she has seen through things her friend has not.

The opening paragraph is just perfect.

When the viewer came, Rachel pretended the apartment was her own. She led her into the living room and watched as the woman drew her crimson fingernails across curtains, wallpaper, CD racks and books, her cigarette ash tumbling on surfaces, unchecked. 

The image of the woman with crimson fingernails is a really close to the bone.   We never learn much of anything about  her but there is a world in those fingernails.

Rachel is showing the apartment owned by her friend Cathy  to a potential buyer.   She likes to pretend this chic nest of a single woman in Dublin is her place, instead of the house with a husband who leaves his heavy shoes on the floor and tells her in exhausting detail what happens to him everyday.  He seems a good man and a decent husband but he also has come to kind of bore her and she does feel claustrophobic.  He has now begun to talk about babies and she can feel the noose tighten.

Her friend Cathy glories in being a single woman with some money living in the big city.   Rachel meets up with Cathy in a pub to tell her how the visit of the woman to her apartment went.   Cathy has two men from her work with her.  We do not know what they do other than to hear one of them brag about the big sales he made today.   Cathy is interested in one of the men, Rachel knows he is just another man for Cathy's collection.   The other man seems interested in Rachel.  Rachel is maybe more flattered than in a state of returning interest, it feels good to know she still has it.   The man asks her if she is going back to Cathy's apartment with them.   She sort of knows what this means and she is nervous but she goes anyway, her friend Cathy is pushing her and tells her she needs to rise above her boring existence and humdrum husband.    Also Cathy is using her and she needs Rachel to go along so she can focus on the man she likes and Rachel and the other man can occupy each other in one way or another.  Each one can maybe see the mirages in their friends lives but not their own controlling fantasies.

Things do get exciting back at Cathy's place but I do not want to spoil this wonderful story for you.

Here is the official biography of Valerie Sirr

Valerie Sirr is a writer from Dublin. She began writing after graduating with her Diploma in Advanced Computer Programming from Trinity College, Dublin. She became interested in psychology and studied at University College, Dublin, for her B.A. hons. Psychology degree, going on to study at London’s Institute of Psychiatry. She holds an M. Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin, and has published and broadcast many short stories both in Ireland and Britain with stories currently under consideration in the US. She received the Hennessy New Irish Writer Award and the Hennessy Award for Emerging Fiction and was awarded two Arts Council of Ireland literature bursaries. She also won the William Allingham, Elizabeth Newsom and Nora Fahy short story awards. Her radio play was shortlisted for RTE radio’s PJ O Connor award. She teaches creative writing and literature appreciation, part-time, and has facilitated writing workshops for Dublin Simon Community and other groups in the community.  She is in the process of looking for a  publisher for her collection of short stories.  

There is a link to this story and others on her web page.

"Mirage" is a great short story, the dialogue is perfect and the details bring everything to life.   I look forward to reading more of her work and plan to post on another of her stories pretty soon.

"Mirage is under international copyright and is the exclusive intellectual property of Valerie Sirr.

I asked Valerie Sirr to tell us who some of her favorite short story writers are and here is her response.   

Elizabeth Bowen, Tessa Hadley, Lorrie Moore, Alice Munro, Katherine Mansfield, Kevin Barry, Raymond Carver and Anthony Doerr.

My thanks to Valerie Sirr for allowing me to post on her great story.   

Mel u

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for including my story here, Mel and for such an attentive reading. Looking forward to a great read of the other stories you've reviewed.