SLIPPING is utterly bizarre and equally addictive
The reviews have started coming in for Lauren Beukes’ forthcoming debut collection SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING.
KIRKUS was fascinated by the book.
An art installation so tactile as to feel alive, a ghost that lurks alongside a promising architecture student, a girl gutted from the inside to make a premiere athlete: all stitched together into a punk tapestry of stories and other short pieces.
Utterly bizarre and equally addictive, these pieces demonstrate that Beukes has only tapped the surface of her prodigious and wide-ranging talent with her novels.
Richard Dansky at THE GREEN MAN REVIEW praises the collection.
The key to Lauren Beukes’ fiction can be found in the non-fiction short pieces at the back end of her new collection, SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING. Beukes’ background is in journalism, and these shorts – some of them little more than brief gut-shots – she takes the reader where her profession took her, into places that are dangerous or forgotten or abandoned by the powers that be, often at the same time. And once there, she zeroes in on that notion of observation, of reporting – on the sheer necessity of the portrayals in the media of incidents and places, in order to get the public to pay some attention and not to ignore, or to swallow easy pre-fab narratives that bear little to no relation to the truth.
And that, then, is why the action of the stories presented in Slipping often feels incidental – it’s because it is. What matters – and Beukes’ decision to sequence the non-fiction after the fiction in the book allows for stunning moments of after-the-fact realization – is the perception of events. Riots are less important than the way they’re spun, and how they affect individuals’ Q ratings. The actions of royalty aren’t as important as feeding the media beast that follows one particular princess around getting what they want – headlines. A kaiju-sized threat gets taken down, not by a giant robot with a chainsword and blasters, but by bad reviews. This, Beukes is telling us again and again, is where the power is in the 21st century, in the eyes of the beholders. The actual events are less important than how they’re spun and how many people they’re spun to.
All of which is a roundabout way of saying that for readers whose idea of a science fiction story starts and ends with the action of the plot, then Slipping might offer some confusing surprises. Time and again Beukes cozies up to old-school tropes, only to spin away to observe the chaos from a position that is more knowing, if not exactly safe. But that, I suspect, is the point.
In his listing of books read in August, Michael Patrick Hicks, author of EMERGENCE, discusses the collection.
So, August was kind of a light reading month, and I spent much of those 31 days preoccupied with writing a novella that will be coming out in October (stay tuned for details!). Not listed here is a book I read at the start of August, a collection of short stories and non-fiction essays by Lauren Beukes. The publisher, Tachyon Publications, asked me to blurb this one, and I was honored to do so.
And here is Hicks’ blurb:
“SLIPPING is a rare surprise, and one that demonstrates Beukes wide-ranging talent. Whether she’s writing about corporate branded future punks and celebrants, or the downtrodden casual menaces of daily life, from a compilation of tweets to a handful of remarkable non-fiction essays, her stories prove, repeatedly, that she is a masterful writer and that she has a voice that absolutely must be heard. Hold on tight to this one—you do not want it to slip away.”
For more information about SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Clara Bacou
Design by Elizabeth Story