Review of “Slice” By Toby Litt: New Country, Same Obsessions

In the story “Slice” by Toby Litt, Lisa and her parents use blogs and tweets to narrate their move from America to England in hopes of separating Lisa from her negative influences. In this new environment, Lisa’s enthusiasm for the unknown leads the family to a crucial discovery that alters their lives forever. Inspired by a classic M.R James story, “The Haunted Dolls’ House” (1923), Toby Lit teamed up with Penguin and Six to Start to create the story “Slice” as a part of “We Tell Stories” — six main digital stories that would reinvent writing (Colligan). Toby Litt’s psychological thriller, “Slice,” is a creative form of web based storytelling told through two points-of-view, that use different tones and writing styles to contrast a rational mindset to one that is more unstable, as well as showing the haunting situations that curiosity can lead a person to.

Throughout the story, Litt uses a depressing, complex tone to depict the unsteady, rebellious, and curious stages of growing up and how this difficult stage among teens is not given any awareness until it becomes too late. Lisa is a troubled teenager who shows many signs of emotional instability, with dark thoughts leading to her poor actions. Lisa’s mental condition is put into question through the author’s description of her music taste and curiosity with death. For example, on the day of Mary Jane’s death, Lisa is listening to “The Firstborn is Dead” while blogging about the situation (Litt). Some signs may also suggest that Lisa is depressed, possibly even suicidal. While writing about Mary Jane, Lisa expresses how dying might have been better for her, as she states, “Perhaps the best part of it was over – who wants to be twenty-five and, like, settling down? She’ll be awfully glamorous to all her friends, being the dead one” (Litt). The mindset she has in regards to the accident, adding onto her obsession with death may suggest that Lisa may have also wanted to take her own life.

Ray, and Lynn’s narration of the story is also told to provide a rational interpretation of Lisa’s more puzzled perspective. Litt delivers a sensible translation of Lisa’s point of view by using Ray and Lynn’s blog to show readers what else is occurring while Lisa is exploring her new house.  Ray and Lynn are occupied by the search of finding a new house and do not pay any attention to Lisa’s suspicious behaviour until she is gone and it is too late. The absence of attention from Lisa’s parents highlights the problem of suicide and depression among teens in society, and how parents don’t realize it until it is out of their control. Comparing Lisa and her parent’s blogs, Toby Litt provides a more confusing, dark tone in Lisa’s blog to give a sense of how her mind works. Moreover, as a psychological thriller, Litt provides an old dollhouse, the reoccurrence of death, and creepy music titles to create a horror-like feel. Using Blogs and Twitter is an innovating way of digital storytelling that allows readers to experience the story both in real time and with different points of view, while relating more to the new age of media and technology. Continue reading

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Works Cited

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Dahl, Roald. “Lamb to the Slaughter.” Harper’s Magazine, 1953, pp. 39-55.

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Erwitt, Elliott. Abtopa He Ehaho. Digital Image. Livejournal. N.p., 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 26 Mar 2017. < http://coffee-mood.livejournal.com/1675645.html>.

G, Olga. Milan Train Station. Digital image. Flickr. N.p., 1 Feb. 2011. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

Gorey, Edward. Digital Image. Instagram. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Mar 2017. < https://www.instagram.com/p/BDdiVKZHBlY/&gt;.

Jackson, Shelly. my body. Alt-X Online Network, 1997, http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/jackson__my_body_a_wunderkammer/index.html . Accessed 26 Mar 2017.

Jeffries, Lee. What’s in a Face: Lee Jeffries. Digital image. Iconology. N.p., 2008. Web. 26 Mar. 2017. <http://iconolo.gy/archive/whats-face-lee-jeffries/2163&gt;.

Lamb to the Slaughter Scene 2. Digital Image. Opteryx. Deviantart, 20 October 2008 Published. Web. 19 February 2017 Accessed.

Lau, Vivian. The Mark Kelty ‘Scary Bunnies’ Pinterest Features Frightening Critters. Digital Image. Trendhunter. N.p., 2 Jun. 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2017. < http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/mark-kelty-scary-bunnies&gt;.

Litt, Toby. Slicequeen, We Tell Stories, 26 March 2008,       http://slicequeen.livejournal.com/1628.html. Accessed 5 Feb. 2017.

Milov, Alexander. Love. Digital Image. Instagram. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Mar 2017. < https://www.instagram.com/p/BK8P_LjjkEM/&gt;.

Modern Girls and Old Fashioned Men. Digital Image. Bloglovin. N.p., 29 Sept. 2014. Web. 26 Mar 2017. <http://frame.bloglovin.com/?post=3498992017&blog=3146297&frame_type=none&gt;.

Mora, Antonio. Invisible Vision. Digital Image. Pinterest. N.p. Web. 26 Mar. 2017. < https://www.pinterest.com/pin/700450548264943624/>.

@NYerFICTION. “You will reflect on the fact that you had stopped being that person even before leaving.” Twitter, 26 May. 2012, 5:28 p.m., https://twitter.com/NYerFiction/status/206542238455570433?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw.

Treisman, Deborah. “Richard for Reads John Cheever.” Audio blog post. Fictional Podcast. Newyorker, 3 May. 2007. Web. 26 Mar 2017.

Untitled. Digital Image. Kersti_K. Flickr, 17 May 2015 Published. Web. 16 February 2017 Accessed.

What’s Your Favorite Dive-Bar Snack?. Digital Image. Popsugar. N.p, 2 Sept. 2008. Web. 26 Mar 2017. < https://www.popsugar.com/food/What-Your-Favorite-Dive-Bar-Snack-1883893&gt;.

“Reunion” Mood Board

“Reunion,” by John Cheever, is about a reunion between Charlie and his father. This reunion consisted of a disappointing amount of communication, and a portrayal of conflict among family, and generations.

In my mood board, I added a photo of a young boy hugging his father through the train’s window. This picture shows what Charlie may have expected of the reunion at the train station, however, the reunion took a completely opposite turn. Although Charlie was able to meet his father, they were unable to have any form of communication as his father was too focused Beefeater Gibson, and yelling at the servers. This is visually represented in my mood board by the dark and lonely images of the bar, and old man drinking. Furthermore, the lack of communication and the absence of any sincere interaction is represented with how every other photo, there is only one man displayed instead of two. Aside from the father’s angry speech, the story has a monotone vibe, which is paralleled by the monochromatic colour scheme of the mood board. The center photo is a black and white photograph of a man walking on train tracks, representing Charlie walking away from his father, feeling disappointed from the idolized figure he created in his head.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 8.15.36 PM

Slice Mood Board

Slice moodboard.jpg

Slice, by Toby Litt, is a psychological thriller that uses blog posts to narrate the experiences of a family living in a strange house. During their stay, they discover tragic news and mysterious encounters.

My mood board uses text, colour, and images to display the overall tone and feel of the story. First, looking at the overall collage, the colour scheme is very monochromatic, with only black whites and greys, and a small touch of red. These colours are used to show the mystery of the story, and to show Lisa’s disturbing characteristics. Furthermore, the left side is more dark, transitioning to a lighter tone on the right side, representing the contrast between the darker tone of Lisa’s blog, to a more rational tone of her parent’s blog. The photo of the girl represents Lisa’s curious mind, and her tendency to explore, while the photo of the universe represents the hole that is the entrance to another dimension.

An important aspect of the story is the hare that leads the family to a mysterious hole. I felt it was important to visualize this on my mood board. One picture represents the hare guiding Lisa to the hole, another is of Ray and Lynn chasing the hare to find their daughter. An old dollhouse and a bloody car scene also help visualize the story as it represents the overall creepy tone, while also representing portions of the story; the dollhouse that Lisa finds in Maryjane’s room, and the car accident that Maryjane’s family was killed in. I also added the words “curiosity”, “family”, “unknown environment”, and “hole in wall”, as I felt they can all be used to accurately described Litts’ ideas for Lisa’s storyline.