Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writing by Lauren Beukes. ★★★
Lauren Beukes is a white South African journalist and fiction writer, who often uses speculative elements in her stories. Prior to reading Slipping, the only work of her’s I’d read was her novel Zoo City, which had an interesting enough concept that I was willing to try other works by her.
Slipping is a collection of shorts stories, flash fiction, and essays, although the fiction predominates. Most of the stories are set in South Africa, and many involve a science fiction element. Overall, the collection has a dark tone, and I’m not sure I can recall a truly happy story in the bunch.
When it comes to the fiction, I found myself mostly apathetic. There were some interesting ideas, but I never invested myself in the stories. The only stand out I can think of sticks in the brain for sheer strangeness – “Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs.” It may have been an homage of sorts to Haruki Murakami, although I haven’t read his work so it struck me more as a mash up of all those “Japan is weird” stereotypes.
Surprisingly, the two stand out pieces were both non-fiction. “All the Pretty Corpses” tells of a personal friend who was brutally murdered by her boyfriend and looks at the way female bodies are used in crime fiction (this incident also inspired her to write The Shining Girls). The second piece, “On Beauty: A Letter to My Five-Year Old Daughter,” was similarly powerful.
I’m not sure if I would generally recommend Slipping. Beyond those two nonfiction pieces, I don’t know what I’ll ultimately remember about it. Perhaps if you’re already a devoted fan you’ll get more out of this than I did.
I received an ARC of Slipping from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.