Lily Metterling & Her Macho Idiots

by Cora Siré

Cora Siré lives in Montréal where she writes fiction, essays, and poetry. She is the author of a novel, The Other Oscar (Quattro Books, 2016), and a collection of poetry, Signs of Subversive Innocents (Signature Editions, 2014). Her work has appeared in magazines such as The Literary Review of CanadaArc PoetryDescant, and Montreal Serai as well as in numerous anthologies. For details, please visit her website.

Arriving early, I select a table by the window and fold my coat on the banquette. I slide into the sunlight, open my knapsack and stack Lily Metterling’s two novels on the table so she’ll be able to identify me, a strategy I learned in Buenos Aires from reviewers of my works. Authors, especially splashy ones with publicists, can spot their beloved books a city block away.

The server approaches, a graceful apparition with long, black hair, possibly Latina like me but I don’t go there. Instead, I ask for a glass of water, pending Lily’s arrival. “Two beverages only, Saskia,” the editor of Ragged specified when she assigned me the tasks of interviewing Lily Metterling and reviewing her latest book. This was after our brouhaha over my last expense claim involving a wine-soaked author interview. The editor didn’t get that I was just trying to help two faltering Argentine friends who’d opened a barbecue joint, appropriately named El Lío (The Fuss).

It’s a frigid Montréal day but clear—the only clouds created by buildings spewing steam. When I first witnessed this phenomenon on a bitter Christmas Day a few weeks ago, I feared the buildings were on fire. To warm up, I chew on the ice cubes, one of several tricks I’ve acquired to counter the freezing weather here. Decreasing body temperature makes the ambience feel less cold. And it’s true that all decent writers are tricksters to some extent. A few sleights of hand, words well placed, and the reader’s entrapped.

Last night, I finished reading Lily’s latest novel, Men with Weird Names, and as I wait, I try to imagine how it would be translated into French (Les hommes aux noms bizarres?) and Spanish (Hombres con nombres extraños?). The book is a catalogue of encounters—sexual, intellectual and a combination of the two—that the protagonist, an exiled poet, has with men in diverse corners of the globe.

The title of each chapter is the man’s name, some of them not that weird. Foreign, maybe, and Lily’s labelling of them in this manner only confirms her provincialism. The last chapter, “Boyo,” is about motherhood and the baby boy the protagonist has with one of the chaptered men. The mystery of the father’s identity remains unresolved and the reader, if interested enough, is obliged to flip back through the chapters to decipher the enigmatic ending.

Instead of doing that, I open my laptop and several emails pop up. There’s good news from my publisher in Buenos Aires (translation rights acquired in London) followed by a new diatribe from my ex. He’s been drinking, I can tell by his wild swings from the accusatory (how dare you steal from people’s lives for the purposes of your shitty novel) to the meek (please come back, Saskia, I need you). I delete his email, aware that tomorrow another one will arrive to contaminate my inbox.

Writers don’t have a lock on tricksterism, that’s one thing I learned from my ex. When I met him in Palermo, not far from Borges’s former residence, Jorge told me, in the bar where we met, that he was a guitarist in a reputable ensemble. I fell for him, his name (just like Borges!) and his wild head of curls, and before I knew it, he was installing his toothbrush in my bathroom and a high-end sound system in my living room.

A year or so later, I spotted Jorge busking to tourists in a plaza in San Telmo which led to the discovery that our comfortable existence had been a fraudulent fabrication, enabled by funding from his wealthy (but I thought estranged) family. These were the oligarchs I’d subjected to ‘truth-fictionalizing’ in my novel. They’re proprietors of a tobacco plantation in the north, a feudal, bucolic estate stretching over an Andean plain. But tobacco, what decent writer could resist the implicit decadence in that deathly metaphor? After my splashy launch in the former cinema converted into a bookstore, the parents flew down to Buenos Aires for damage control. In their ignorance, the tabloids trumpeted the awkward allegation (“Saskia Martinez accused of libel by her in-laws!”) as if it were a crime rather than the essence of most reasonable literary works and my publicist, cowed by oligarchic threats, quit on the spot.

So as not to poison my mind with ex-related venom, I browse for further news on the feud between the two writers unfolding in cliff-hanging episodes as catty as the worst Argentine telenovella. In English language venues, their feud is being compared to the Julian Barnes/Martin Amis debacle, Salman Rushdie’s outburst about John Updike and the long ago Norman Mailer attack on Gore Vidal’s “intellectual pollution” delivered on The Dick Cavett Show. But in Spanish venues, the writers’ differences are being plotted along ‘Europe versus Latin America’ lines in language that resembles World Cup post-game diatribes.

What captivates me, beyond the feud’s voyeuristically addictive quality, has to do with a literary gathering I attended last spring. On a rainy Friday evening not long after my arrival from Buenos Aires, I and the other attendees took our seats in the back of a Spanish language bookstore. From behind a round table with a pitcher of water and three upside down tumblers, Diego, the moderator and owner of the bookstore, waved at me politely, “Hola, Saskia.” His cordial greeting belied that the week before, he’d chased me out of his store for spending too much time reading, but not buying, books.

In his distinctly Mexican Spanish, Diego introduced the writers with the usual descriptions of books published and prizes garnered. To his left, the older Leo Pluma sat hunched over pages of notes. A swarthy man with black rimmed glasses, his demeanour was sad but not hostile. Next to him, Jordi Goya leaned comfortably against the back of his chair, a bright orange scarf folded in half and looped around his neck. Jordi looked out at us from beneath frenzied curls, seeking eye contact and occasionally smiling at the audience. All thirteen of us occupied the folding chairs with only two vacant seats in the front. Most were displaced Latinos and I recognized many of them. If Montréal’s literary world is a beehive then the subset of Spanish-speaking writers is just a little honeycomb. Minuscule.

Billed as a discussion on “the meaning of place in fictional narrative,” the event was part of a trilingual festival in this modest city I temporarily call home. ‘Modest’ may be a disputed characterization of Montréal, but it`s meant as a compliment, in the sense of ‘restrained’ or ‘unpretentious,’ relative to greater Buenos Aires, neither modestly-sized with 13 million plus inhabitants nor lacking brashness. I was at the festival thanks to Ragged, the online magazine who’d paid for my pass in exchange for a few articles about the authors featured at the festival. Diego rather unimaginatively opened the discussion with a question, “What is the role of geography in your novels?”

Leo Pluma began with an anecdote about walking through Central Park in a snowstorm while suffering nostalgia for his birth city of Madrid and how his commotion of feelings inspired his latest novel. I hadn’t read the two writers’ recent works and wasn’t sure whether I’d have the time to read (or the money to buy) their books. It was obvious I had to steer clear of Diego for a while, given his apparent lack of esteem for Argentines, especially broke ones. But I enjoyed listening to the cadence of the Spanish and Leo’s low-key delivery as he talked about how much easier it is to write of his birthplace when he’s elsewhere.

When it was Jordi’s turn, he invoked an insane asylum in Argentina and how that place became a metaphor in one of his novels. Jordi mentioned “the geography of the interior” which he claimed was more interesting than physical landscapes. “I’m not big on description,” he said, with a disparaging glance at Leo, “or nostalgia.”

Before he could elaborate, there was a kerfuffle as a tall latecomer walked up the aisle, blond hair swinging down her back. She had to cross in front of the writers to get to one of the empty chairs. Although she presumably knew nothing of me, I recognized Lily Metterling, a local author who’d made a splash with her first novel, I Like It Slow, translated into thirteen languages including French (Tranquillement, mon amour) and Spanish (Más despacio, querido).

Lily took her seat, arching her back to shrug the damp trench coat off her shoulders. I was close enough to smell a lemony trace of her perfume and to see Jordi’s eyes widen. Beside him, Leo Pluma smoothed back his dyed hair and tried to sit a little straighter. Meanwhile Lily rummaged in her purse for a pen and pad, the rings on her fingers catching the bookstore’s overhead lights.

For the remaining hour or so, the two writers promoted their novels without any swipes or hogging of the audience’s attention. Looking back, I do recall Leo trying to trump Jordi’s natural charm with some flattering commentary about the Canadian literary scene, mentioning that he’d reviewed and/or interviewed some Famous Writers, mangling their names, regrettably, with his Spanish pronunciation. Both seemed to be checking discretely Lily Metterling’s reaction to their erudite utterances. She scribbled notes and I had to wonder who she was writing for, hopefully not Ragged, and I decided not to review this event in case she was going to. When the talk ended, I left for a furtive browse of the bookstore.

With Diego glowering in the background, muttering insults about “Argentines really needing all those psychotherapists,” I took my time leafing through the two writers’ books. While Leo Pluma’s works evoke an elaborate quasi-magic realism of the previous century (e.g., his novel about a failed flamenco dancer who returns to his village in Andalusia where he grows succulent tomatoes until they become infested by virulent—read fascist—insects eventually eradicated by a freak snowstorm), Jordi’s work is sparse, high voltage and urban. His books require more reading effort, are often narrated in first person, leaving space for the reader to fill in. Like his latest, about a young woman who has an affair with a human rights lawyer, moves in with her until the woman mysteriously disappears (a loaded word in our part of the world) and takes up with an aging musician who, after his band dissolves, becomes a scammer in Buenos Aires. This latter part, incidentally, bears an uncanny resemblance to a plotline in my recent novel, perhaps because Jordi and I, in our thirties, write of our time and place.

Just as I’m searching for the latest online nastiness flung between the two writers, I’m aware the server is vigorously wiping off the tables in the café, empty but for me and a couple leaning against the counter, friends of the server keeping her company on this very quiet Tuesday morning. She’s edging towards my table, lower lip clenched between her teeth, enhancing the lovely dimples parenthesizing her lips. A few furtive glances my way, and I’m convinced she’s recognized me, or else she’s wondering whether I’m ever going to place an order. Lily’s late; what can I do except contemplate ordering half a coffee pending her arrival.

Finally, having reached the table next to mine, she asks, “Would you like anything else?” Her tone is friendly, I’m relieved to note, and she speaks to me in English which means she’s not about to unmask my identity.

“I’ll wait until my companion gets here, thanks. But I could handle some more ice cubes.”

She nods, glancing at the books on my table. “My friends … were wondering … are you Lily Metterling?”

Hell no, I almost chortle. “She’s coming any minute now.”

“It’s just that we love her books. They’re so … Montréal.”

Really? I ponder this, as the server hurries back to inform her friends. Is it that Lily Metterling’s globe-trotting sexual encounters ultimately transcend place and speak to twenty-something-year-olds in their language?

Outside the sunny window, the Montréal streets are dead this frigid January morning. It’s moments like this when, forgetting its craziness and dangers, I miss my home city, how its nonstop soundtrack matches my mother tongue. Language is the only element of my history that still feels completely grounded.

I go back to my laptop and find Leo Pluma’s recent salvo, a New York Times essay in which he states, “There has been no memorable Argentine writer since Borges.” Jordi Goya responds with a tweet dismissing the “geriatric posturing of frustrated Europeans.”

It’s hard to fathom the reasons for the eruption of bad blood spilling over the internet. Even serious insiders (I’m talking The New Yorker, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, et al.) are stunned by the acerbic communiqués exchanged by two writers who appear cut from similar rawhide. Both are high-minded and write out of the post-post-modern tradition, tipping their pens to writers like Jorge Luis Borges whom they can quote from memory while lecturing doctoral students.

Leo Pluma should have the advantage. Based in New York, the Spaniard has interviewed every major literary figure since the 80s, which means he can effortlessly drop names or phone Joyce Carol Oates et al to defend his attacks.

Jordi Goya, on the other hand, lives where he was born, in Buenos Aires, still considered a literary hinterland (especially to Spaniards) even though Argentina boasts among the largest numbers of publishers per capita as well as, incidentally, the largest numbers of psychiatrists.

And now, days after Jordi’s new book surfaced on Amazon, the feud’s gone viral. Leo’s review in El País is headlined, “Jordi Goya impales himself—let’s bury the rotten prose with the corpse.” In dense columns, Leo decries the “disjointed plotlines” and “insipid narrative voice” of his rival’s work and implores readers not to pollute their minds with the failed novel.

The pummeling evokes a boxing match with the audience craving carnage. Why else do these venues keep publishing their verbal jabs?

“Leo Pluma needs psychiatric care,” Jordi counterattacks. “His post-colonial posturing reinforces what Argentine writers have known for years: Spain is intellectually bankrupt.”

Leo reminds the world of Argentina’s 2001 financial collapse, its earlier, brutal military regime that “extinguished the lights of the country’s leading intellectuals, leaving a creative vacuum.”

The cruelty behind Leo’s argumentation gnaws into me. The dirty war in Argentina did leave an artistic ‘vacuum.’ An estimated 30,000 people disappeared during the junta, most of them young intellectuals. Others, including many writers, were detained, tortured and eventually released. From then on, their psyches were not in the best shape to produce great works of literature. Some tried to write, often in exile, while others stayed in Argentina, taught and thereby helped shape the post-’83 generation of writers, including Jordi Goya and, in truth, me. Both of us write of our time and place, the razzle-dazzle of Buenos Aires, with the confidence that—unlike our predecessors—nobody will arrest and torture us for our writing.

Jordi punches away, invoking fascism and homophobia, reminding readers that homosexuality was a criminal offence in Spain until after Franco’s death in ’75. As to Leo’s dismissal of Argentina’s post-Borges literary achievements, Jordi’s post simply and effectively provides this list: “Sábato, Di Benedetto, Cortázar, Walsh, Pizarnik, Piglia, Gelman, Valenzuela, Aira, Gamerro, Pradelli and Havilio.”

He has me at Di Benedetto. The author of Zama, an overlooked masterpiece, Di Benedetto was arrested in ’76 and spent a torturous year in prison. He left for Spain where he may or may not have had some dealings with Roberto Bolaño whose homage (truth fictionalized as a short story) describes how critics dismissed Di Benedetto as “Kafka in the colonies.” Eventually Di Benedetto returned to Buenos Aires after the first democratic elections, too broken to do much in the way of writing.

I resolve to get Lily Metterling’s take on the feud and scan my list of questions to figure out at which point I should refer back to the literary event in May. I don’t want to engage in a sexist, cherchez la blonde exercise. I just want to know what she makes of their battle.

A stinging mass of cold air precedes Lily’s arrival. She takes the chair across from me and unfurls a delicate scarf of grey wool, sunlight glistening off her earrings. Two braids crown her head.

The server hurries to our table. Lily orders a bowl of chocolat chaud and slithers out of her coat. I ask for an americano, milk on the side. My banquette is lower than her chair, giving her a height advantage.

“So you’re …” she looks down at her phone. “Saskia? An unusual name, Rembrandt’s wife’s, am I right?”

I nod, relieved she used the word ‘unusual’ rather than ‘weird.’ Weirdness, like nostalgia, I would love to tell her, resides in the eye, or ear, of the beholder.

Since Lily chose to address me in English, I continue in that language. “Is Metterling a German name?” resorting to the opening moves of a tango often danced in this city and with me, in particular. People are always trying to figure out where I’m from, as if this has a huge bearing on who I am. Perhaps it does, but one of the benefits I most cherish of emigration is the possibility of a clean slate. Except of course in the Latino community, where depending on the reader’s politics, I’m loathed or loved.

“Huguenot. From Eastern Prussia, now Poland.”

“But you were born here,” an assertion to prove I’m familiar with her bio. I also read that Lily Metterling was, like me, orphaned at a young age and that she studied philosophy in Mexico City (hence her Frida Kahlo look) before writing her first novel. I decide to skip all that. “I just finished reading your new—”

“How did you like it?”

“Intriguing.” Her laser-like gaze disconcerts, like an approaching car with its high beams on. I long for sunglasses but lurch forward, asking about the novel’s structure, her decisions to write in present tense and play with geography, so that every encounter with the man in question occurs in a different location, the landscape often mirroring the psyche of the narrator.

Lily describes how the book took shape as she traveled on tours for her first novel, finding herself at odd little festivals or literary gatherings in an obscure corner of Romania, flying on to Sicily, Slovenia and Toulouse. “And that’s only Europe. I also traveled to Taiwan and Calcutta, Bahrain and Cairo.”

The server brings her bowl of hot chocolate and my doll-sized cup of coffee. Blushing, she tells Lily that she and “my friends over there are big fans.”

Lily is pleased. Her pale cheeks don’t redden; she takes the compliment in stride. But she glances from the server to me. I feel compelled to say, “It seems your work really resonates.”

“Where are you from?” Lily asks the server.


“Like Saskia here.”

“No, I’m Argentine.” Huge difference, I want to add. The server regards me with obvious disapproval. Argentines tend to get a bad rap in Latin America, especially the ones from Buenos Aires. Arrogant, we’re often called, high maintenance and twitchy. I go for my biggest smile, but the server’s sashaying back to her friends at the counter.

“Where was I?” Lily asks.


“Right. So I extended those experiences to the imaginary, creating invented landscapes, cities and towns and placing the character there. I see it as topographical, rather than geographic.”

She’s attempting to prevent me from asking too many questions. I’ve heard that local reviewers make her nervous. Apparently, she’s fine at book fairs in Frankfurt and Guadalajara. It happens, the disconcerting inversion of worldwide acclaim and local obscurity although the reverse is true in my case. ‘Notoriety,’ I’d love to tell her, ‘is a short-lived condition with painful symptoms.’

As Lily’s winding down from a description of riding a camel on the Jordanian desert alongside a “real nomad” and her profound thirst “to discover non-belonging,” I take the plunge.

“So the meaning of place in your narratives extends to the metaphorical. Not unlike the Latin American tradition of using words to reflect the power of the landscape. I’m thinking for example of Jordi Goya, the Argentine who writes of the mega-city as an insane asylum.”

Her eyes narrow as if willing herself to be shrewd.

“So you’ve read Goya?”

Lily nods. “Oh yes. I’ve read his books and I’ve read him.

Busted. Lily is masterful, catapulting the May event I witnessed into a full-blown lecture with hundreds of participants, a “really engaging discussion of metaphysical realities in meta-fictions.” Leo Pluma and Jordi Goya she says, “were absolutely fascinating despite their opposing views on issues such as how to avoid the chauvinism of writing place in deconstructed narratives.” At the end of the event, as she was gathering her things with “the full intention of going home to write, that’s how stoked I was,” Leo Pluma approached her, claiming, she says, “to have recognized me even though I was sitting at the back of the hall.” He invited Lily to join him and Jordi for dinner and off they went to a cozy bistro with fantastic wines, “three writers in search of common ground.”

Lily tilts the bowl to finish her drink. When she continues speaking, two streaks of chocolate parenthesize her nose, momentarily endearing her to me. I rein in the impulse to blurt out, ‘Lily, I was there. It wasn’t nearly as grandiose as that.’

She describes the meal, who ordered what and the two bottles of wine consumed, “mainly by Leo Pluma. But who am I to criticize? He knows everyone!” At some later point, “before dessert, I think,” each of the men left the table to use the toilet and in his absence, the other invited Lily to his hotel room. “They were staying at the same hotel in adjacent rooms, Leo Pluma in 575 and Jordi Goya in 576. After our crèmes brulées with espressos, we said good-bye outside the restaurant. They shared a taxi back to the hotel, each of them expecting me to show up at his hotel room later.”

She rubs her nose, smearing a streak of chocolate onto her cheek. I wait.

“If you knew them, or had seen them, I think you’d guess who I might have picked.”

Jordi Goya with his striking orange scarf and curly locks, no doubt. But switching points of view, I wonder what made the two men fall for Lily Metterling. The unplucked (albeit fair) eyebrows? Her blue-eyed laser gaze? Her unabashed (read sexual) confidence?

“I couldn’t alienate the other,” she says, “and risk him seeing me sneaking in or out of his neighbour’s room.”

And now the two writers are going after each like duelers in a nineteenth-century novel,their achievements negated by flying gauntlets and misfired pistols. I decide to ask her straight. “What do you make of their feud?”

“Depressingly puerile.”

“Do you suppose it’s because each thinks the other spent that night in May with you?”

Lily shrugs. “Macho idiots.” She laughs. “Maybe that’ll be the title of my next book.”

“Do you think Leo Pluma will review your novel?”

“My publisher sent him a review copy. I guess if Leo goes negative, Jordi will defend me.”

“And if he’s positive, Jordi will disagree.”

“That’s where you come in, Saskia.”

Lily presses me to write a review, not for local readers of Ragged curious about the plot of her latest book and seeking vainly for nostalgic references to Montréal’s landmarks immortalized on the page, but a critique aimed at “an international audience” so she can post a link to my eventual review on her website. She wants me to compare her (favourably, of course) to writers both established (Leo Pluma) as well as emerging (Jordi Goya), preempting either from taking a negative position on her book. “You’ve got the Hispanic background and name recognition. I mean, it’ll make sense for you to allude to the two of them. My strategy is to get them to agree on my book and bring an end to their silly feud.” And the coup de grace: “Saskia, it’ll redeem what’s left of your reputation!”

I remember a trickster I met in Palermo last year at a dingy bar just after things fell apart with my ex. Despite the crowded darkness, the trickster had sensed my vulnerability as an easy mark based on the headlines (“Novelist Saskia Martinez haunted by allegations of truth-fictionalizing” alongside my ghostly photo in sunglasses and a trench coat as I escaped into a taxi). With an earnest audacity similar to Lily’s, the fellow, curly haired and twitchy, offered me fifty pesos if I agreed to complicity in a ruse. We’d saunter into a local book antiquarian like two lovers seeking browse-worthy shelving. He (the trickster) would steal a signed first edition of Borges’ seminal Ficciones. While I created a diversion, faking the loss of a fat wallet full of cash, he’d slip out of the store unnoticed, the book in his knapsack, leaving me to face the owner’s pistol, Rottweiler and my conscience. This encounter with the trickster was the last straw, propelling me to leave my country for good (at least until my visa expires).

A reviewer interviewing an author is accustomed to being the target of some manipulation. But Lily’s plan brought attempted co-opting to new heights. I listen, showing little reaction, until she adds, “At least I’m sure of one thing: I’m true to my own heart. Don’t you think?”

“You’ve got some chocolate on your face,” is all I reply and hand her a napkin. Later I’ll regret my lack of expressed outrage since silence has enabled so many evils.

I wind up writing a genuine review of Men with Weird Names. It takes many drafts to neutralize the tone. I avoid (Plumian) ad hominem attacks and try not to fall into the ‘reviewmanship’ trap, whereby the reviewer tries to come off as smarter than her subject. I praise what I like (the invented settings, the immediacy of the prose) and play down the faults (the conceit of the premise, the unflinching arrogance of the first person narrator and the sentimental take on motherhood) except for one: the complete absence of (Goya-esque) gender ambiguity, a failing that readers, like our Chilean server, should be mindful of before swooning over Lily Metterling’s prose.

The weeks go by slowly as I struggle through the brutal conditions of my first Montréal winter. I land a few reading gigs at the university, thanks to a Latina professor, and make some progress on my new novel. Not long after accepting and paying me for my piece, I receive an email from the editor of Ragged claiming that “limited resources,” etc. etc. preclude her from commissioning further work from me.

I struggle with the urge to post some scathing remark on Lily Metterling who I assume is responsible for my dismissal. She hasn’t responded to my review, “Writers with Weird Egos,” a title which seemed clever at the time but verges on that Argentine arrogance my new habitat is working hard to erode.

At least the royalties from my novels seem to be on the upswing (thanks to the notoriety back home). As for my interview, posted alongside the review, a truthful reportage that literally took me hours to polish up, the editor of Ragged begrudgingly thanked me “for all the traction.” I’m especially proud of the ending in which I deliver, for the readers’ sheer entertainment, this imaginary conversation over breakfast, setting the stage for the subsequent verbal boxing match:

Leo: Great dinner last night! That Lily Schmetterling what a delight!

Jordi: Metterling. Get her name right, old man. (I’d written viejo for the sake of verisimilitude but alas, the editors insisted on English throughout.)

Leo: You wouldn’t happen to have any aspirin? My head … the cheap wine.

Jordi: No. Actually she disappointed, given all the acclaim. Where’s the intellectual? The cleverness? And above all, the passion?

Leo: I think we must have overwhelmed her. You should be more restrained.

Jordi: How so?

Leo: Charm is earned my friend (amigo, I’d written). Not doled out.

Jordi: Son of a whore. (Again, hijo de puta, for the record.)

Leo: Meet me in the ring.

On April fool’s, a snowstorm blankets Montréal, a nasty joke played by the great trickster in the sky. After pacing my apartment in the day’s dying light, I venture into the streets feeling the exiled stranger in a film noir. Streetlights capture swirling snowflakes like dust in a labyrinth of concrete. Meanwhile in my former metropolis, lying inverted below the equator, it’s an oppressively humid fall. It’s absurd to think that spring (if that’s what this is) and autumn can exist simultaneously, such as, oh I don’t know, writing truth and writing fiction. To avoid sinking into a nostalgic funk, I wind up in Diego’s bookstore and politely brush the snowflakes off the shoulders of my trench coat. Near the door, there’s a freshly-translated stack of Lily Metterling’s novel, ¡Hombre! Before Diego can kick me out, I pick up a book and discover, on the back jacket, the effusive blurbs by her macho idiots.


Cora Siré lives in Montréal where she writes fiction, essays, and poetry. She is the author of a novel, The Other Oscar (Quattro Books, 2016), and a collection of poetry, Signs of Subversive Innocents (Signature Editions, 2014). Her work has appeared in magazines such as The Literary Review of CanadaArc PoetryDescant, and Montreal Serai as well as in numerous anthologies. For details, please visit her website.