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