The "We Know It When We See It" Department

Been reading about “slipstream literature” with some bemusement. No one seems to know how to define it, but everyone knows what it isn’t. It isn’t the Dead White Guys Club, it isn’t the Literature Sorted by National Flag garbage (“and now ve celebrate the undiscovered gems of bad-tempered birdsong translations into a folkloric template from Vanuatu–truly one of our lost classics, it’s such a great pity there are only two readers in the world for this sort of thing”), it isn’t the Chicklit/ Schlock Is Great Literachoor, Ya Sucks Boo argument.

Ron Drummond has helped compile a Working Slipstream Cannon, though, and now I know what they mean–“Slipstream” is code for “we’re spying on the Babu’s bookshelves”. Here’s the top 25:

The Core Canon of Slipstream

1. Collected Fictions (coll 1998), Jorge Luis Borges
2. Invisible Cities (1972, trans 1974), Italo Calvino
3. Little, Big (1981), John Crowley
4. Magic for Beginners (coll 2005), Kelly Link
5. Dhalgren (1974), Samuel R. Delany
6. Burning Your Boats: Collected Short Fiction (coll, 1995), Angela Carter
7. One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967, trans 1970), Gabriel Garcia Marquez
8. The Ægypt Cycle (1987-2007), John Crowley
9. Feeling Very Strange (anth 2006), John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly (eds.)
10. The Complete Short Stories of J.G. Ballard (coll 2001)
11. Stranger Things Happen (coll 2001), Kelly Link
12. The Lottery and Other Stories (coll 1949), Shirley Jackson
13. Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), Thomas Pynchon
14. Conjunctions 39 (anth 2002), Peter Straub (ed.)
15. The Metamorphosis (1915), Franz Kafka
16. The Trial (1925), Franz Kafka
17. Orlando (1928), Virginia Woolf
18. The Castle (1926), Franz Kafka
19. The complete works of Franz Kafka
20. V; (1963), Thomas Pynchon
21. Nights at the Circus (1984), Angela Carter
22. The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet (anth 2007), Kelly Link and Gavin Grant (eds.)
23. The Heat Death of the Universe and Other Stories [UK title Busy About the Tree of Life] (coll 1988), Pamela Zoline
24. Foucault’s Pendulum (1988, trans 1989), Umberto Eco
25. Sarah Canary (1991), Karen Joy Fowler





3 responses to “The "We Know It When We See It" Department”

  1. Aishwarya Avatar

    The Babu’s bookshelves are Carter and Link friendly?

  2. roswitha Avatar

    Is it because its easier to spell than ‘postmodern’?

  3. Madhuri Avatar

    It is surprising to find no Japanese literature here. They seem to spearhead Slipstream.

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