The Story “The God of Dark Laughter” is the one I found as the best example of a slipstream fiction. I found the setting, narrative voice, and allusions to popular culture and mainstream literature that are used in the story as the most captivating of all the other stories.
The setting of the occurrences in the story is strange, eerie and raises issues that border on fantasy, literary fiction and reality. The setting involves the discovery of a body in the woods by two boys who had spent some time in the same woods hunting squirrels. The body that is the subject of investigation had been gruesomely damaged. It had been, “skinned from chin to crown, clavicle to clavicle, taking ears, eyelids, lips and scalp in a single grisly flap” (Kelly & John, 208).
Detectives led by Edward Satterlee get into the woods to investigate the murder. In the woods the detectives discover some caves in which they suspect the man to have lived. In many slipstream stories, the setting of the happenings in the story involves some solitary place such as a forest or an abandoned building or caves and this story perfectly befits this uniquely commonality of slipstreams. This particular setting is rife with descriptions of strange smells in the cave, unexplainable sounds, fearsome experiences and an air of eeriness that compounds the events in the story as a perfect slipstream.
The narrative voice is also reminiscent of the strangeness that characterizes slipstream stories. The narrator’s voice is solemn as he pens this story as part of his resignation letter. He states the story as he experienced and understood about the murder in the woods. His narration has a tinge of resignation to situations for which he should have acted but he never did. He is for instance resigned that his workplace in Western Pennsylvania does not attract “the finest police talent” (Kelly & John, 209). This is strange because the narrator had earlier stated that in his 12-years of service as a district attorney he had investigated cases that, “all too often ran to the outrageous and bizarre” (Kelly & John, 208). This resignation by the narrator shows his position of having given up to the ills on his society in spite of him being in a position to do better.
The happenings in the story are outrageous and strange. The detectives discovered that the deceased man was living in cave. The cave is described as having some household items and old tattered books. The strangest was a book written in German which Satterlee questioned as being too heavy a reading for a clown (Kelly & John, 213). The, “air in the cave had a sharp, briny tinge; beneath it there was a stale animal musk” (Kelly & John, 214). This strange smell in the cave absurdly reminded the narrator of the inside of a circus tent. The narrators’s fellow investigator described stated that “it smell like a cave to me” ((Kelly & John, 215) in reference to the smell from the cave. As the story progressed on the narrator got to read the German book and discovered that the deceased man might have been murdered as part of a cleansing ritual due to occurrences of some ancient gods associated with circuses.
This story is a perfect slipstream. It combines the gory events of a murdered man with his head completely skinned and a narrator who is resigned to the bizarre and outrageous events in his town. The fact that the story is set in the woods in which the man resided in a smelly cave sums this story as a classic slipstream.
Kelly, James P., and John Kessel. Feeling very strange: the Slipstream anthology. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2006. Print.