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


Works Cited

Angie, Gina. Beefeater Gin: Inside London. Digital Image. Thedieline. N.p., 6 Jul. 2012. Web. 26 Mar 2017.  <;.

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

Digital Image. Serpentrouge. N.p. Web. 26 Mar 2017. <;.

Erwitt, Elliott. Abtopa He Ehaho. Digital Image. Livejournal. N.p., 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 26 Mar 2017. <>.

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. <;.

Jackson, Shelly. my body. Alt-X Online Network, 1997, . Accessed 26 Mar 2017.

Jeffries, Lee. What’s in a Face: Lee Jeffries. Digital image. Iconology. N.p., 2008. Web. 26 Mar. 2017. <;.

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. <;.

Litt, Toby. Slicequeen, We Tell Stories, 26 March 2008, Accessed 5 Feb. 2017.

Milov, Alexander. Love. Digital Image. Instagram. N.p., 2016. Web. 26 Mar 2017. <;.

Modern Girls and Old Fashioned Men. Digital Image. Bloglovin. N.p., 29 Sept. 2014. Web. 26 Mar 2017. <;.

Mora, Antonio. Invisible Vision. Digital Image. Pinterest. N.p. Web. 26 Mar. 2017. <>.

@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.,

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. <;.

“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.

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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.

Lamb Chops Are Not Just Lamb Chops

“Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl demonstrates that not everything is as it may seem to appear, as a woman who appears to be innocent is actually her husband’s murderer. The story begins depicting Mary to be a sane, normal housewife, bored and always catering to her husband, but as the story continues, it becomes clear that Mary is in fact very manipulative and deceiving. She soon surprises the reader and kills her husband with a leg of lamb after he confessed some unfortunate news to her, and still manages to victimize herself and appear innocent. For instance, after practicing in the mirror, Mary was able to convince the grocer, that everything was normal, when in reality, just moments ago she had cracked her husband’s skull. At the beginning of the story, most readers would not have expected Mary to kill her husband, and be able to scheme her way out of it. Throughout the story, after the interrogations, none of the detectives considered that Mary could be the perpetrator, also, they never considered that the lamb chops they were eating could be the murder weapon. While eating the lamb chops, one detective suggest that the weapon is still on the crime site, and another responds “Probably right under our very noses…”, the irony of this conversation displays that things are not always as they appear (Dahl, 44). A normal housewife, killing her husband, and end up getting away with it comes to show that not everything is as they seem to be.screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-11-12-39-pm


Confusing Execution of “Black Box”

In 2012, when the trend of social media was emerging, Jennifer Egan used Twitter as an innovative platform to narrate her story “Black Box” through live tweets. “Black Box” is about a female spy trying to steal information from her opponents in the Mediterranean, and was told an hour a day through a span of ten days. Although “Black Box” had an interesting storyline, and Twitter fiction is a creative form of storytelling, using twitter failed to enhance Egan’s story, but rather made in more confusing for readers.

Twitter fiction is unique for its ability to have readers interact and connect with its posts. Prior to publishing the tweets, Egan planned and organized the entire “Black Box” story on paper, which prevents any interactions with its readers. Since tweets were published over a span of ten days, initial readers may either lose interest, or potentially forget the storyline. Moreover, the timeline of the story does not match up with the time of each tweet, making it feel less live and more tirelessly stretched out. For example, Egan uses a lot of repetition in “Black Box” to build its plot, and although it may be useful to the story, readers will be frustrated to read multiple “you will reflect on the fact…” tweets while anticipating actual storyline (@NYerFiction). After the whole story has been published, when reading “Black Box” in its entirety, the Twitter format can be more hard to follow, compared to the traditional paragraph style story. Twitter is may be an inventive form of storytelling, but it made for a poor and confusing execution of “Black Box”.


The Dark Tones of “Signs and Symbols”


In “Signs and Symbols” Vladimir Nabokov creatively provides motifs and imagery that allows the reader to understand how the mind of the young boy works. “Signs and Symbols” is about a mentally unstable boy that believes everything revolves around him, and that everything has a significance. He reads into every object, and thinks it affects him in some dark, ominous way. For example, “Man-made objects were to him either hives of evil… or gross comforts for which no use could be found in his abstract world” (Nabokov 1). Nabokov emphasizes on details and objects, like those displayed on my Pinterest Catalogue , that makes the reader question whether or not it has any significance or meaning to the story, similar to how the boy views the world. The Pinterest page has a pessimistic, dark tone throughout the photos mirroring the tone in “Signs and symbols”. The story has a motif of birds throughout the story, the bird drowning in the puddle, the bird the boy drew at age six with “human hands and feet” (Nabokov 2), and how a patient thought the boy was learning to fly when he tried to commit suicide. The negative tone was emphasized by the gloomy weather and the parents’ continuous amount of waiting, whether at the broken-down train, the crowded bus or the hospital, showing how slow time was passing by for the family. Visualizing these scenes and objects helps portray the underlying tone of the story, and display how unique and unconventional the mind of the young boy works.