Oh hi little angelmouse friends of mine who are friends that I enjoy. How are you? How has life been treating you? Do you feel sad or incomplete sometimes? Do you feel like something is missing from your life?
Well saddle up the Fall seasonal pony, go get a pumpkin spice latte and your UGG boots.. and one of those big ass comfy blankets. I’ll wait.
K. Everyone all comfy?
Good. Look. What’s missing from your life aside from meaning, loving relationships, and a nutritious diet, is good solid prose that doesn’t make you want to tear off your dick and start scraping your face against the pavement like those people in those bath salts videos on the internet..
And since we’ve got all that down.. Here’s some science I am about to drop on ya.
If you remember that name, then you should pat yourself on the back and be happy, because I’ve talked about her before.
Her book, “The Shining Girls” was one of the only books I reviewed last year. It haunted me, and still, a year later, it has stuck with me.
I was very lovingly contacted by Tachyon publishing (Thanks Jim!) and asked if I was interested to read Lauren’s newest literary offering, “Slipping: Stories, Essays and Other Writing” and the answer was an emphatic FUCK YES.
Now, let’s get nerdy, because.. I love short stories. Love them. For someone who is as busy as I am, the time management center of my brain allows me to more readily digest short fiction and non-fiction because I don’t have to sink hours into getting the story moving, and any author worth a Raymond Carver, knows the value of crafting a perfect short.
Short stories are harder than novels, I think. You have to say what you’re going to say in a smaller scale, and in order for short stories to punch you in the cunt, you really have to be succint. Succint is not a talent that a lot of writers have. Let me tell you right here, Lauren Beukes has this particular talent in spades.
Not only is she quite adept at the strange science that surrounds time travel, a la, the Shining Girls, she’s quite skilled at crafting the perfect and perfectly horrible short work. This is demonstrated as well within the pages of “Slipping” as Beukes chose to print several of her twitter fiction pieces and again, she nails it.
My favourite twitter fiction from Lauren Beukes is:
“#ColdWarFairyTaleII: He opened up the warhead and found her heart, all glass and nuclear love”
The stories range from punk dystopic science fiction, to vaguely threatening, to seriously threatening, to murder, and to a deep resonating poignancy and longing that connects each.
One essay stands out for me in stark brutal truth and that is the piece, “All the Pretty Corpses”, and it stands in part as some explanation for the ideas behind “The Shining Girls”, why the violence in the book is so brutal and Beukes’s own thoughts on why she wrote “The Shining Girls”.. This is very cool and an intimate look at subjects that aren’t often discussed. Beukes discloses a personal story upon the murder of her friend.. an actual murder, discussed in plain language, real brutality and tangible tragedy. This story punched me in the face and knocked the wind out of me at the same time as it wove a knot into my throat.
My best friend was murdered in 2006. The experience lingers on my psyche like perfume and cigarette smoke to my going out clothes. The truth and reality behind what is said in this piece is so very relatable and heart breaking. I KNEW there was a reason that “The Shining Girls” had drawn me so deeply to it, and this really explains that connection.
This piece of information was so honest, so stark and it made me feel connected to this author and the work she is doing.
The dark technological pieces that Beukes writes like “Confirm/Ignore” and “Muse” are favourite of mine as well, commentary on how insidious technology and stalking can be, and how we navigate shedding blood and our skins on the world wide web.
“Unathi Battles the Black Hairballs” is a humorous jab at “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” by LSD fuelled confirmed creepy dudes The Flaming Lips, and though I wanted to like it, I didn’t. It didn’t work for me. That was the weak link in this collection for me, but I don’t enjoy anime so I have a feeling that I am not the target for this piece.
“Slipping”, however, is a story that I went FUCKING CRAZY for. It’s like Lauren Beukes channeled all the best aspects of Margaret Atwood’s “MaddAddam” trilogy, put it into a blender with the Hunger Games, and Ex Machina and baked it at 450F on a pre greased sheet of my interest in science fiction. The story is slick, fast moving and made for a real thinker afterwards. Beukes excels at writing what I refer to as “casually horrific”. She throws out lines that are so disgusting and horrifying with no abandon and then returns to her dutiful storytelling. It’s the kind of thing where if you blink you miss them, but they stick with you and make you feel so queasy. Here’s one from Slipping:
“Tomislav twists off the vales on either side, unplugs her stomach and eases itout of her. He sets it in a sterile biobox and connects it to a blood flow. By the time he turns back, she is already spooling up the accordion twist of artificial intestine like a magician pulling ribbons from his palm. It smells of lab-mod bacteria, with the faintest whiff of feces.” – Lauren Beukes, “Slipping”, pg 17
God, that line still fucks with me in a big way. Slipping really is the stand out story in this collection for me and I think Lauren Beukes knows this and chose the title story accordingly.
Look at her. I don’t need to post a photo here of Lauren Beukes, but look at her angelic face. She crafts beautiful darkness and looks like someone who should sing a heavenly choir. Don’t be fooled.
This woman is a writer to watch and if you haven’t read “The Shining Girls”.. what are you waiting for?
“Slipping: Stories, Essays and Other Writing” comes out December 9th 2016.
Buy it. Read it. Support literature in all its darkness and beauty.
Thanks to Lauren Beukes for organizing the words into the world.
Thanks to Jim and Tachyon Publishing for lovingly providing us with a chance to read this book.