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Slipstream Message Board

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1wolfnotes First Message
Jul 29, 2006, 3:15 am

The image is one of Zak Smith's illustrations for each page of Gravity's Rainbow.

Jul 30, 2006, 8:05 pm

I have just finished reading A Maggot, which I was alternately awed and bored by and would recommend only to those who have already read and enjoyed Fowles' The Magus and French Lieutenant's Woman, A Maggot being the least accessible of the three. Another work of the historical-slipstream variety that I enjoyed and that should be better known is Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd.

Jul 31, 2006, 1:04 pm

I had never heard this term before, but I like it. I'm currently working on Gravity's Rainbow.

Aug 2, 2006, 8:09 am

dhalgren, I agree about Fowles' works. I really enjoyed The Magus and French Lieutenant's Woman, but wound up disappointed by A Maggot. It's been a few years and perhaps I should give it another try, but I remember being enthralled at the beginning and just feeling cheated by the ending. I'm going to try Hawksmoor. Would Ackroyd's Clerkenwell Tales qualify as "slipstream"? Not exactly sure if it is strange enough.

Aug 2, 2006, 8:53 pm

I only came upon the term slipstream when I read this post at boingboing, and I realized that some of my favorite books seemed to fit.

Aug 2, 2006, 8:58 pm

Hawksmoor is actually the only Ackroyd I've read. The book you mention seems straightforward historical fiction, but two other Ackroyd books appear on this list of slipstream works: Chatterton and The Plato Papers.

Aug 2, 2006, 10:35 pm

While there is a basic plot in The Clerkenwell Tales, the style is hardly straighforward. It jumps from person to person and it takes awhile to start to piece together the various individual stories in some coherent sense. As the boingboing post said: "Slipstream may use metafictional techniques to estrange us from consensus reality, they may rewrite history, they may mash up different styles or genres. But that's the point, as we see it. Slipstream has no rules, it has only results."

I looked up some reviews and several comment on a surreal quality in the novel.

"Part of Ackroyd's genius here is his ability to capture London at a time when it looks and sounds surreal to us -- a fascinating mixture of the familiar and the alien.

The Clerkenwell Tales deals with London in a time that seems quite alien to us ... Ackroyd paints a vivid picture of London of the time, with meticulous attention to detail, conjuring up the sights, sounds and smells of medieval London, but he then cleverly subverts the notion of the historical novel by turning ideas on their head and evoking the parallels between those uncertain times and our own.

In any case, I found the novel had that sense of uncertainly and alien that could be called "slipsteam". I only heard of the term when I saw this LT group. And when I read the Wikipedia article I realized it listed a lot of the authors I have like a great deal.

Aug 4, 2006, 1:52 am

When I said that The Clerkenwell Tales seemed straightforward I didn't mean that it had a straightforward style, only that it didn't sound like it really crossed the boundaries of the historical fiction genre (and this based only on the few summaries and reviews of the book I took a look at).

I think my idea of what slipstream is also a bit narrower than some definitions of it. For example, I don't consider works of magic realism (e.g. Midnight's Children) to be slipstream even though they appear on Sterling's list.

9library_chan First Message
Aug 4, 2006, 1:56 am

Personally, I think this category seems to be subjective enough for you to decide for yourself whether or not a book fits into it. For example, I think that Midnight's Children can fit into the category of Slipstream. It makes me feel weird, it rewrites history, and it is intensely surreal at times. Some do not agree with me on that, but nonetheless, that is how I see it.

To each their own.

Aug 4, 2006, 1:57 am

dhalgren, LOL @ our comments. :)

Aug 11, 2006, 9:25 am

Came into slipstream through the side door. Didn't know it was a 'genre' proper until around two months ago, with the publication of Feeling Very Strange, by which time I had already been reading Bruno Schulz, Johnathan Lethem & Christopher Priest. Similarly, found myself creating a LT group on the topic without realizing one already existed.

Fitting, when one considers the tendency of the genre to squirm like a delinquint particle under a microscope.

Aug 12, 2006, 1:45 am

Hi echo, glad you found us. Interesting image that squirming particle.

And as i mentioned earlier in the thread i hadn't heard the term either until the boingboing post on Feeling Very Strange, though i haven't looked at that book yet or read any of authors you mention; any recommendations?

Edited: Oct 17, 2006, 12:31 pm

I just thought of a title I'd like to put in this category (sort of thinking out loud here, as it were). Eco's The Island of the Day Before has that surreal, improbable quality to it.