Re: Fashion Victims
In the Mirror by Valery Bryusov (The Thrill of Horror ed. Hugh Lamb)
From the early the narrator, the young girl is fascinated by mirrors, the world of mysterious looking glass
I have just completed my review below and uncannily I have now found this perfect spot to post it. Strange coincidence! I wrote this review just now before seeing this post above.
NO STRONGER THAN A FLOWER by Robert Aickman
“…a woman’s appearance is what a man most cares about, yet, too often, the more she does about it the less he cares for the result and for her.”
Of its time, this story is essentially reprehensible as well as inscrutable — inscrutable unless there is a clue in the fact that Nesta’s silver candelabra are explicitly described as “writhing” — whence, later, the candlelight by which she sees herself in the monumental tall mirror at the end arguably reveals an eccentric Aickman-like version of Medusa?
Nesta had started having a mutually comfortable marriage with Curtis, until he foolhardily encourages her to do something about her comparative plainness of appearance, and she then visits by taxi a row of terraced houses, where ‘the elderly or the disappointed’ generally live, to receive some sort of makeover that she had seen in an advert. The nature of this makeover is airbrushed by Aickman, and even the taxi driver warns her against going into one of those houses but eventually leaving her there, apparently happy not to be paid by her for the journey!
Then it is the exungulation of Nesta’s fingernails that takes sharp prominence during the remaining process of entropy in her marriage to Curtis, while her face, if not always her appetising mouth, is constantly veiled…. Not to speak of the many hats she now sports at various times. Not a Medusa after all perhaps but more something that has been airbrushed into the philosopher A.J. Ayer’s drogulus? (I wouldn’t be surprised if Aickman knew Ayer.)
PS: My very short ‘The Exungulation of the Drogulus’, first published in 2012 —
written before I realised today that it might have been inspired by this Aickman story from when I first read it in the 20th century.
This Aickman story came up completely fresh for me today, but my memory is notoriously bad, and that is the reason I now review books as recorded in real-time!
Above review was first posted elsewhere today by me.
My previous reviews of Aickman: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/robert-aickman/