Single-author collections can sometimes feel like side projects, perhaps merely of ancillary interest in an author’s oeuvre. This isn’t the case with Lauren Beukes’ SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING (2016), a bold, impressive record of her work’s unique energy and versatility.
Most of Beukes’ work brandishes the sharp edge of critique, targeting social injustice, gender inequality, and media manipulation, among other topics. When late in the volume the content switches over to non-fiction, the underpinnings of the author’s worldview come more into focus, while also illuminating her approach to fiction. Most striking of these is “Adventures in Journalism,” which paints a picture of Beukes’ journalistic roots and how they inform her creative process. There are also powerful pieces regarding her novel research: “All the Pretty Corpses” (THE SHINING GIRLS) and “Inner City” (ZOO CITY). The non-fiction selections are an effective touch to end the collection, highlighting the uniquely effective power of Beukes’ varied prose: her non-fiction effortlessly elevates real-life scenarios to the feel of heightened-reality legend, a reversal of the way so much of her fiction seems to be digging at a larger truth. I knew going in that Beukes was a powerfully talented wordsmith; Slipping broadened my appreciation more than I was expecting. Very highly recommended.
Rhian Bowley on her eponymous blog recommends the collection.
First up, Lauren Beuke‘s short story collection SLIPPING. This was hit after hit of what I like best about her writing: sly, sharp digs at who we are, who we want to be, and the tricks we fall for, all with a gritty, near-future cyberpunk backdrop.
If you already like her writing, you’ll like this – if you haven’t read her yet, start here or see my review of ZOO CITY. I’ve seen this collection hailed as satire but it read more like fortune-telling to me – the future is written, and Instagram is going to kill us all.
For more information about SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Clara Bacou
Design by Elizabeth Story