Reviews > Published on November 29th, 2016

Bookshots: 'Slipping' by Lauren Beukes

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Slipping: Stories, Essays & Other Writing

Who wrote it?

A staggering mix of horror, crime, humor, dystopian views, and science fiction from an author who has become a household name thanks to narratives that push against genre boundaries.

Lauren Beukes, the South African novelist, short story writer, journalist, and television scriptwriter who's responsible for the critically acclaimed novels Broken Monsters and The Shining Girls, among other books.

Plot in a Box:

With 21 shorts stories and 5 nonfiction pieces packed into almost 300 pages, there's too much here to offer a synopsis.

Invent a new title for this book:

Subcutaneous Lights

Read this if you like(d):

Any of Beukes' previous books, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jeremy Robert Johnson, smart splatterpunk, or D. Harlan Wilson.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Too many to get into it.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Like I said, there are too many, but to give you an idea, there are staring roles here for actresses that range from Scarlett Johansson to Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord.

Setting: would you want to live there?

The stories move from South Africa to Tokyo and always offer a grimy, dysfunctional, futuristic/dystopian yes.

What was your favorite sentence?

My political views are 'pragmatic optimist egoist,' which says that I am smart and sunny and witty and irreverent, but also that I am beautiful and cool and I know it.

The Verdict:

I expected this to be weird and wonderful, and that's exactly what it is. Beukes constantly deconstructs humanity and then reassembles it in strange ways in her narratives. The end result are short stories that entertain while exploring what it means to be human, to love, to fear, and even to consume in a rapidly approaching future in which corporeal reality can be toyed with and where companies can literally get under your skin and change your life. One story that deserves particular attention is "The Princess," which reimagines Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea" through a Kardashian prism. That probably doesn't make a lot of sense, and that's just one of many reasons why you should read this. Also, Beukes' preoccupation with body modification and dystopian worlds is in full effect here. The worlds she creates for each story are rich and immersive, not to mention weird and often dangerous. These worlds are filled with violence, competition, reality television, war, new ways of making money in a bizarre economy, and even ghosts. Beukes is a major talent, and these stories and nonfiction pieces demand to be devoured in a way that makes this hefty book go by as quickly as a 100-page, action-packed novella.

Slipping is a staggering mix of horror, crime, humor, dystopian views, and science fiction from an author who has become a household name thanks to narratives that push against genre boundaries. Simply put, Beukes always sounds like Beukes, and this collection is no different, which is a wonderful thing. 

About the author

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. Y

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