Wild Cotton


160 pages
ISBN 1-895387-31-0
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Chris Knight

Chris Knight is an editor at the Toronto-based Canadian HR Reporter.


Writing and the writer’s mind are a means of escape for the female
characters who tell their tales (or whose tales are told) in these seven
short stories.

There is a tension between the humdrum lives of husbands and day jobs
and the richer world of written imagery and inner fantasy that drives
these stories: a social worker travels to Cuba in 1962 to break into
political journalism but is thwarted by a worldly crowd who control her
every move; a painter plans a sensual trip to France while trying to
locate her neighbor, who seems to have disappeared. Again and again,
Pereira’s prose moves back and forth from the bodies and clothing of
her characters to their inner lives, often ironically at odds with each
other. Communication between these outer and inner lives is hampered by
language barriers and misread emotions. And yet there is growth, if not
closure, in the characters’ lives; some message, or part of a message,
does get transmitted.

In places, the narrator’s diction becomes so closely tied to the
characters’ inner lives that if that character is simple, the writing
tends to simplify and some of its descriptive power is diluted. However,
for the most part this tricky balance between narrator and character is
maintained. If the characters do not always completely succeed in their
need to tell their stories, Pereira manages to communicate themes of
love and loss, aging and hope, very well indeed.


Pereira, Helen., “Wild Cotton,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1455.