A pair of fresh reviews for Lauren Beukes’ recently released debut collection SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING.
For LOCUS ONLINE, Paul Di Filippo praises the book.
First, while the Big Five have more or less abandoned story collections, Tachyon continues to promote this essential variety of book. Lauren Beukes’s debut assemblage is a fine example. Coming after four essential novels, the book can only enhance her reputation in the field. Twenty-one stories bulk out the tome, while a handful of non-fiction pieces hang back near the exit. These latter items are entertaining—snippets of journalism, along with some tidbits on the research that preceded Beukes’s novel ZOO CITY—as well as a touching maternal screed addressed to Beukes’s daughter. But the fiction is really the main attraction here. And since the majority of it appeared first in South African publications, reflecting Beukes’s country of residence, chances are great that the Tachyon audience will not have seen them before.
Beukes writes with passion and a hot immediacy, employing demotic prose that often attains a gritty poetry. She favors capturing the explosive instant rather than the multi-linked chain of circumstances that constitute most stories. This trait lends her work intensity and impact, but detracts a bit from any sense of grand patterns enacted and long-term destinies fulfilled. Luckily, her longer fiction remedies this deficit quite handily, making the total Beukes canon into a well-balanced sculpture.
VENTUREADLAXRE gives the collection a five out of five.
Each part in the collection after this is totally different, and yet utterly enthralling and manages to keep you reading though the easy way you slip into each narrative. Usually when there’s huge changes in short story to short story I usually need a break, but this collection works perfectly at holding you down to devour the first half easily within an hour – or until dinner interrupts you, at least.
Being Beukes, hard topics are described and explored, and being Beukes one can easily trust in the author to be both sensitive, intelligent and eloquent throughout.
The non-fiction shows us work that Beukes did as a journalist, and it’s amazingly good – I’m picky with my non-fiction and either struggle through each paragraph or can’t put it down, and this was the latter.
In this collection, though it’s sometimes hard to see through the grit and the grime and the grim nature of the narrative, there is still hope and determination and people ready to struggle for what’s right. And that’s what makes this collection so damn powerful.
For more information about SLIPPING: STORIES, ESSAYS, & OTHER WRITING, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Clara Bacou
Design by Elizabeth Story