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Mirror and Silhouette: Baret Magarian

(9 customer reviews)


Baret Magarian’s novella Mirror and Silhouette is a tale of the shadow self set amidst the backdrop of Venice. It is about the changing nature of identity and the inescapability of the past. Bryony, a rich and beautiful woman who has moved to Venice, invites an old friend to stay, and the story he tells her seems to trigger his disappearance. Bryony, in the meantime, falls for the pleasures and masquerades of Venetian life. At a masked ball she meets a fascinating stranger dressed as the Plague Doctor. In the end, she tells him her own story, which is entwined with that of the rich uncle whose wealth she has inherited: a series of life-affirming and nightmarish experiences.

71pp, B format paperback, £4.00

“A stylish literary blend of Thomas Mann, Angela Carter and Patricia Highsmith,” writes Sally Bayley. “Baret Magarian writes of modern love and its pessimistic antagonists against the seductive backdrop of ancient Venice. This is an accomplished novella for literary and aesthetic readers.”

Baret’s very impressive and lengthy novel, The Fabrications, is due to be published on 1st June, 2017, by Pleasure Boat Press of New York. Jonathan Coe has written that it is a “brilliant achievement… extremely original, accomplished and ambitious.” Follow its progress and read reviews of it on its Facebook page.

SKU: ISBN 978 0 99307634 3 Category:


Baret Magarian lives in Florence. His creative writing career started at an early age, when he found it convenient to make up school history essays rather than learn facts by rote; he is still quite lazy and creative. Baret’s lengthy novel, The Fabrications [“a brilliant achievement… extremely ambitious, accomplished and original” – Jonathan Coe] is to be published in June 2017 by Pleasure Boat Studio in New York; a collection of short stories, Melting Point, is also to be published in early 2017, by Quarup. Baret has published fiction in many magazines worldwide; book reviews, features and articles have appeared in all the major British broadsheets.

An interview with Baret Magarian about the book

Albion Beatnik’s blog about the book


“Leaving behind the drabness of London, having inherited a staggering sum of money from someone she referred to as Carbuncle, she made her way to the dream that was Venice because she wanted to say that she had lived there, at least for a little while, and her solicitor in London knew a notary in Rome who knew an estate agent in Veneto who knew a landlord in…
“When she managed to insert the gigantic, phallic key into the tiny vaginal opening of the door she didn’t quite expect the jaw-dropping splendour of what she saw there, that fourteenth century palazzo, a series of wooden echoing rooms of operatic intricacy, filled with spectral life, filled with in-imitable details, and yet fatally faded, diminished, like an old lady that revealed, at moments, flashes of her youthful beauty and grace but was otherwise succumbing to exquisite ruin. She loved every beamed ceiling, every chandelier, every window that wouldn’t close properly, every blind, light bulb, cobweb, crack, damp patch. She was high up, perched on the fourth floor there, secreted into one of the narrow waterways near the Rialto, and her view of the Grand Canal made her mad with joy so she rushed through the rooms, flinging the doors open and screaming in delight, finding the apartment endless, as endless as a dream in the night she never wanted to wake from, a morphing organism, getting bigger and bigger, and she would never know it all, always be surprised by it, always discover new nooks and crannies in the place.”


9 reviews for Mirror and Silhouette: Baret Magarian

  1. Stella

    The sort of read that takes you away into what might have been or might one day be. A ruse of exquisite detail that hides behind a mask of glamour. A seduction of chiaroscuro where you know full well the inevitability of it all but will not resist that delicious willing disbelief of suspenders. Both sordid and innocent; restive and tranquil; frenetic and poised, it will challenge you to face truths you decline; lure you down dark winding Venetian alleyways; glide your fingers into the cool waters of Burano; invite you to taste the spaghetti allo scoglio; smooth your brow with the jaded urbanity of Olivero Bembo; catch you by the wrist with the audacity of Egan Howells. And Bryony, ah Bryony…

  2. Sean

    Just as one can lose oneself in the narrow lanes and canals of Venice, so too can you disappear into the lush tapestry of the Bryony’s tale. She and all of the characters in this intriguing novella are a perfect metaphor for the sordid and beautiful story that was and is the pearl of the Adriatic. Drunken nocturnal confessions, clandestine taboo affairs of the heart and mind, introspection and shocking discovery don’t so much overpower as they do envelope you, draw you in, and make you long to kiss the fish.

  3. Lori

    Always intrigued by a novella, MIRROR AND SILHOUETTE did not let me down. The Venetian setting offers much color and depth which, in the hands of a less skilled author, could become cliché. However Baret Magarian’s talent lies is his ability to entice his reader into unexpected folds and corners where surprises lurk. In addition, pacing in the storytelling and rhythm on the page add rich layers to the reading experience. Tidbits to coax, followed – at an appropriate distance – with satisfying abundance: reading this novella feels something like a teasingly elusive lover, the affair short-lived but substantial and rewarding.

  4. Julia

    I couldn’t stop reading. I read it in one go because it was so gripping. Great descriptions and interesting and intriguing characters. The novella is very intense. The style is refined and sophisticated. Venice is evoked very mysteriously. I recommend it strongly.

  5. Mary Lennox

    This novella has the refined style of a Murano vase, the sophistication of lace, the morbid preciousness and mystery of a secret jewel. Evoking a realm of decay and sickness, it brings to life and strongly links different worlds, merging British aristocratic excess with the masks of Venice and an African world of beauty and madness. In doing this, it echoes both Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe, with a touch of contemporary Gothic – and perfectly suits Poe’s theories about the short story, since you can’t stop reading it!
    Mirror and Silhouette is a dive into pure literature: reading it is like entering an echo chamber of European fiction, from Death in Venice to Heart of Darkness, where the writer-magician Baret Magarian manages to bridge the gap between horror and decay, thus giving Africa a new decadent taste. Yet the novella is absolutely original, thanks to its ability to create a unique texture out of all these literary allusions. It combines excellent narrative techniques – and a rich and suspenseful plot – with highly symbolic imagery, while also exploring a wide range of feelings in an extremely sensitive way. If you are looking for mastery in the mechanisms of narrative together with a deep knowledge of the human soul, then Baret Magarian is definitely your writer.

  6. Michela

    Baret Magarian is a poet, and this novella is fluid poetry. Beauty is spread everywhere, ever changing, exuberant, it comes in many colours, many shapes and atmospheres. Images arise incessantly, one morphs into the next and yet another follows, like waves, like a river which cannot be contained and takes multiple paths. “Something” is lost and then again found, under other names, other faces or no faces at all, in shadows, in darkness, in silence, in a voice floating in the candle light, a voice of the soul. Venice is a gigantic, tiny, mysterious open-space labyrinth, carved in stone and water, where the characters move, driven by the inscrutable and mutable will of the marine undercurrents and tides. And yet everything assumes a unity of movement. In my way of experiencing it, this novella is about how surprising, multi-leveled, incredibly rich is the texture of reality for someone who – like Bryony, our heroine – keeps a form of primary innocence intact, is ready to realise her dreams and does not worry if the dreams manifest themselves in mysterious ways, and turn out to be different from what she imagined. Reality in its purity, in its truth, is awesome and surprising, for those who can preserve an open space in their soul and give themselves the freedom to just see, and listen, to it.

  7. C. De Melo

    Byrony seems to be “living the dream” in the first chapter of this highly entertaining and original story. The author uses wonderful visual descriptions to portray Venice as a city of contradictions, where elegance and luxury intertwines with decay and dilapidation. The heroine’s short stay in Italy is full of unexpected twists and eccentric friendships, but after her encounter with a mysterious masked stranger, she arrives at a point where she is forced to deeply contemplate her own life. The author’s ability to make the reader feel not only empathy for Byrony, but also sympathize with her, is the hallmark of a gifted writer.

  8. David

    Baret Magarian’s characterizations of Venice as the dreamlike city that so many people imagine, read about, or see first-hand is reason enough to read this novella; He also packs in a tightly woven and deeply engaging story, that mirrors the complexities of the city itself:

    “She felt Venice itself was always experienced as if for the first time, not subject to the law of perceptual atrophy that marked other cities.”

    There is a degree of truth to so many of Magarian’s lines, that by the end of the novella one feels taken on a trip by a master observer of place and time. A quick read packed with insight and amazing imagery – highly recommended!

  9. Raymondo

    A woman sets out to live her perfect life in her perfect place, the radiant, mysterious and half-dead city known as Venice. A fortuitous deceased uncle provides the wherewithal for an exploration of the possibilities unfettered by the shackles of the daily drudge. A girl walks off the tube onto the Riva degli Schiavoni, what could go wrong? Magarian teases us with this entertaining shared fantasy, keeping us on the edge of the unpredictability of people set free from the norms of the quotidian…

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