More reviews for Lauren Beukes’ stunning, diverse SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING.
At FANTASY FACTION, Eric Christensen praises the book.
SLIPPING by Lauren
Beukes is a collection of previously published short stories and
nonfiction. Having read—and loved—two of her novels, THE SHINING
GIRLS and BROKEN MONSTERS, I jumped at the chance to read this
collection. Everything I liked about her novels I found here: dark
and unsettling imagery, relationships forming and exploding, clever
turns of phrase, and striking details amid chaos. Oh, and there’s
also a story of a female mecha pilot battling giant hairballs over
Tokyo with the help of Haruki Murakami.
As I read these stories, I repeatedly got pulled in by Beukes’s characters. They are a diverse bunch: athletes, fighters, lovers, stalkers, mobsters, artists, celebrities, soldiers, and students. They are ambitious, aggressive, sad, and scared. With only a couple lines of dialog (international snippets of slang, a threat implied by the typos of a sticky keyboard, or the corporate devil on a character’s shoulder pushing them to sell out, just a little bit more), I instantly understood and identified with them.
But no matter how weird or disturbing or fantastic the story, Beukes’s journalistic eye would point to a detail to ground the story, making it real. Or the details round out the story, giving the stories an added layer of texture, more filled out.
At 288 pages, this is a somewhat slim collection, and every reader is bound to find some stories better than others. But I didn’t find any to be outright duds. Whether the story takes place in present day, the near future, or somewhere else entirely, through sharp use of dialogue and description, readers instantly get a handle on her characters as they experience fear, love, hate, joy, confusion, exploitation, and adventure. The stories are funny and freaky, sad and scary. They are bold and beautiful, violent and vibrant. Beukes’s talent is on display chapter after chapter, and I think this is a great introduction to her writing. Pick this up, and when you’re done, grab one of her novels.
KJ Mulder of WORLDS IN INK lauds the volume.
SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING collects just over a decade’s worth of short fiction by Lauren Beukes. The 21 short stories and 5 non-fiction essays collected here showcases both her growing talent as author and her keen ability to transform the mundane trappings of the everyday into something unsettling, extraordinary and thought-provoking. Her fiction manages to deal with real issues in unusual and disconcerting ways; Beukes is not afraid to shine a light into the darkness we wilfully try to ignore in order to expose the hard truths hidden in the nooks and crannies of our daily lives. The themes she tackles covers the gamut of modern life – exploitation, the effect of social media on our lives, identity, relationships, censorship and social injustice.
SLIPPING is a stunning, diverse collection of genre-spanning short fiction by one of South Africa’s best speculative fiction authors. The stories are gritty, disconcerting and thought-provoking. These are stories with impact; stories that will make you think and alter your perspectives. Stories that will make you sit up and take notice. While this might be a slim volume it packs one heck of a punch! If you are a fan of Lauren Beukes then this is an absolute must have.
STRANGE ALLIANCES enjoys the collection.
Reading can be a passive pastime. Not so with the immediacy of Lauren Beukes writing which exudes such energy it reaches out of the page, grabs you by the throat and gives you a good shake. Her non-fiction is as effective as her fiction, resulting in a collection that is a highly visceral experience. Certainly the book will leave you moved or deep in thought about what you’ve just read.
These short stories and writing are a showcase in how far you can push words on a page as well as the reader, yet Beukes never loses control of the sometimes weird and quite frankly disturbing, as fantasy and the outlandish can be juxtaposed with the recognizable and ordinary.
Forensically the non-fiction section is very interesting because it is excellent prose and demonstrates the experiences that have bled through into Beukes’ powerful stories. Her non-fiction prose is as hypnotic as her fiction and I will now be on the hunt for more of it.
Beukes captures the essence of what it means to be alive in all its many forms, as the life force of the characters tears itself right off the page and meets the reader head on.
Sadie L. Trombetta of BUSTLE includes Lauren Beukes in 9 Modern Women Science Fiction Writers You Need To Be Celebrating.
genre-bending author, Lauren Beukes has written about everything from
time-traveling serial-kilers (THE SHINING GIRLS) to a cyberpunk
dystopian future (MOXYLAND). An innovative author of sci–fi,
literary fiction, urban fantasy, nonfiction, and even more, Beukes is
one writer you’ll never get bored with. If you’re looking for
something on the edge of the genre, look no further.
For more information about SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Clara Bacou
Design by Elizabeth Story