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Slipstream: A Novel Hardcover – May 16, 2006

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Next time you join the throngs of people hurrying through a major airport like LAX, spare a thought for those who work there. That's what Larson's impressively rich, darkly plotted and seriously frightening debut thriller does. That bartender, Wylie, who just poured you a drink to calm your nerves: what's his story? Why does this twitchy Vietnam vet who can "play slide guitar, frame a house, smoke a salmon to perfection" avoid entanglements and spend his working hours serving Dewar's at $6.50 a pop? Why does Wylie getting his ex-con brother, Logan, a job at the airport cause so much trouble? Why can't Rudy, the head of a plane-cleaning crew, tell his wife, Inez, about his being fired? And how is the lesbian love life of Logan's daughter, Jewell, a hard-working architecture student, affected by what happens to Rudy and by Inez's plan to leave her husband? Larson zooms in on these five deceptively ordinary people, showing how their lives intersect and climax in a hail of bullets. Best of all is the way Larson uses LAX to capture the despair and sadness of a city like Los Angeles. (May)
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From Booklist

A melodramatic ending mars this otherwise deft debut set against the backdrop of Los Angeles and its airport, a soulless expanse where employees quite literally watch the world pass them by. Slipstream's characters are a desperate lot: Thomas Wylie, a beleaguered airport bartender trying to do right by his pregnant girlfriend; Wylie's brother, Logan, a newly paroled, recovering drug addict hoping to reconnect with his college-age daughter, Jewell; and Rudy, an unjustly terminated airport worker whose thirst for revenge will forever change each of their lives. From the opening chapters, Larson conveys a sense of emotional turbulence and impending doom. Bartender Wylie, a Vietnam veteran, warily serves drinks to his shifty-eyed clientele. Rudy's boss cruelly fires him within earshot of his coworkers. In one of the novel's eeriest moments, Rudy sees a parallel between his fate and that of the prehistoric creatures sucked into the oozing asphalt of the La Brea Tar Pits. "Did any of the animals manage to escape the tar once they were stuck? Pull themselves loose to live another day?" Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Shaye Areheart Books (May 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307337995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307337993
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,051,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The New York Times called Leslie Larson's second novel, Breaking Out of Bedlam, "A kick." Publishers Weekly said, "Delightful...Plenty of heart and humor." And the San Francisco Chronicle called it "A good read: funny, sad and easy." Leslie's critically acclaimed first novel, Slipstream, was a BookSense Notable Book, a Target Breakout Book, winner of the Astraea Award for Fiction, and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Her work has appeared in Faultline, the East Bay Express, Writer magazine, and the Women's Review of Books, among other publications. She has taught writing at the Macondo Writers Workshop, San Diego Writers Ink, and Book Passage.

Leslie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Visit her website:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By SF Booklover on June 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Slipstream has intense, sad, unforgettable characters and a mood and setting you can get lost in. I loved the author's lyrical voice and amazing eye for detail. This is a side of Los Angeles (and the airport) that you don't often see in fiction--no movie stars, no plane crashes, but a narrative and voice that get under your skin and stay with you long after you've finished reading the book. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gabrielle Gates on April 2, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was completely wrapped up in this wonderfully told tale of five characters and an airport in contemporary LA, whose lives intersect in minor and major ways. I was really impressed by this writer's skill in making me care so deeply, so quickly, about the characters. I could not wait to find out what happened to all of them. I found the ending very satisfying. This was a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking read. Thanks to Leslie Larson! I will be looking for more of her work.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Rosen on May 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I was surprised to discover this was the author's first published novel. It's very polished and literary with excellent character development and a gripping story. Lots of clever analogies and dark humor. My favorite part is when the Jewell character is working at her school cafeteria and deals with a complaint about the cheese on the omelets: ...Jewell slid the spatula under the omelet like she was slitting a throat. She catapulted it into the garbage behind her, where it landed with the dull thud of a dead body. "Anything else? Sausage?" She picked one up with the tongs and held it so the girl could inspect its turd-like profile. "Look, not a speck of cheese."... That one made me laugh out loud. Ms. Larson does a great job of getting inside the heads of the male and female characters and scenes like that bring them to life. A great read from a promising writer.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think of literary fiction as being more "character driven" and genre fiction (suspense, mystery, etc.) as being situation driven. What intrigued me about Slipstream is that it is primarily character driven but has all the page turner characteristics of the best genre fiction.

There are 5 primary characters in Slipstream, and they were all very different from each other. Yet the author seemed intimately familiar with them all. Of the male characters I kept thinking, only a man could have written that. And of the female characters, I felt that only a woman could have had the minute insights into the female personalities being described. The characters seem to be drawn in 3D relief, some are pathetic, others are weird, others likable, etc.

Somehow a tension is introduced into all of this, making you wonder what's up with these people, where they're going, what's going to get in the way. I really admired the author's ability to get into the hearts and souls of these people that habitate the "just a step or two away from the skids" regions of society we are all familiar with, while keeping me entranced with wondering, what's going to happen next?
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on April 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Maybe I should have given the novel a better chance, but only made it through the first two chapters. A previous reviewer described the work as "high literature," and I have to strongly disagree. The prose seemed unpolished, and ultimately boring. It's certainly not a book that "grabs" one from the beginning. I felt the character development inadequate - I didn't get a good feel of who these people were, or a part of their world. It came across to me a collection of cliches, stereotypes. Maybe the book gets better as it goes, but I didn't feel it was worth my time to keep reading. Not enough sense of mystery from the outset.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By sfarmer76 on July 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Slipstream, $23.95 US, is an impressive novel from Berkeley author Leslie Larson that you'll probably find enjoyment in. Set in Los Angeles, this drama examines the lives of five characters that all happen to intersect in one place -- LAX. Have you ever been through Los Angeles International? Larson uses metaphorical arrivals and departures at the terminal to illuminate the desolation and melancholia of the city.

Look at some of Larson's characters: Rudy Cullen, he's lost his supervisory job cleaning jets; Inez Cullen, she's Rudy's Avon-selling soon-to-be ex-wife; Tommy Wylie, he's content bartending to anxious travelers; Logan Wylie, he's Tommy's just-released jailbird brother; and finally Jewel Wylie, she's niece to Tommy -- the estranged daughter of Logan -- and a student at UCLA. Unknown to the five, they're all headed for sorrow.

If Leslie's book succeeds, it's because she creates vivid portraits: "The guy gave Wylie a quick once-over. Summed him up and kissed him off. The uniform probably had a lot to do with it, Wylie thought -- the black slacks and the putty-colored polo shirt that said TOP HAT ENTERPRISES over the breast pocket." Larson's deliberate eye and measured descriptions elevate her writing to high literature.

Perhaps you've seen guys like Tommy Wylie before, but do you know their ambitions? Larson wants you to notice the service people you bypass every day, and ponder their lives. She relates how others see Wylie: "He didn't suspect that Wylie could play slide guitar, frame a house, and smoke a salmon to perfection." Wylie's clearly an ignored character. All of Larson's characters are similarly neglected.

Something about Larson's writing just screams social injustice.
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