‘Le Miroir’ by Robert Aickman

Le Miroir by Robert Aickman, 1977

The magic trick:

Assembling an excellent – if not particularly original – collection of story elements

Let’s assemble story pieces here like they make meals on the Food Network show Chopped.

Four items. Make a story:

Paris.

Artistic ambitions.

A teenager’s sexual awakening.

A magic mirror.

That’s really not a very difficult list to work with, is it? Usually on Chopped you get the curveball ingredient. Pigs feet. Or gummy bears. Something odd.

But here, in this story, you’ve got a palette of classics. Not surprisingly then, the finished dish fits together perfectly.

And that’s quite a trick on Aickman’s part.

The selection:

In particular, there was not one single mirror or looking glass, not one; not even a cracked fragment in the downstairs cabinet, with, perhaps, MILTON at one corner, or, possibly, JEYES, such as one found in bathing machines. So Celia went out and purchased four or five looking glasses immediately. All but one would be merely for use each day and were backed with nitrate, though certainly not mass-produced or in any way commonplace; but the last of her acquisitions might have stood in any bedroom at home.

Celia had spotted it in one of the low, dark, hopelessly untidy shops where, until recently, one bought such things in Paris; and its capture had been an impulse of the instant, as is everything that is in any way real. Elements of nostalgia, even of plain homesickness, no doubt entered in.

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