The Slippage: A Novel

Overview

William and Louisa Day are a suburban husband and wife, with no children, confronting the question of what their relationship means to them and if and how it will survive. One day, after weeks of bizarre behavior—disappearing in the middle of parties, hoarding mail—Louisa approaches William with a stark request: "I want you to build us a house." Caught off guard, William is suddenly forced to reckon with his own hopes and desires, his growing discomfort at home and work, and, in the end, his wife's ...

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The Slippage

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Overview

William and Louisa Day are a suburban husband and wife, with no children, confronting the question of what their relationship means to them and if and how it will survive. One day, after weeks of bizarre behavior—disappearing in the middle of parties, hoarding mail—Louisa approaches William with a stark request: "I want you to build us a house." Caught off guard, William is suddenly forced to reckon with his own hopes and desires, his growing discomfort at home and work, and, in the end, his wife's fight-or-flight ultimatum. The result is an emotionally powerful novel, marked by Ben Greenman's trademark blend of yearning and mordant wit.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - S. Kirk Walsh
In fluid and commanding prose, Greenman depicts this disconnected couple caught in the undertow of their unfulfilled early 40s…The Slippage lands squarely in John Cheever territory, the literary subgenre of realistic suburban fiction, with chummy cocktail parties, injurious infidelities and broken real-estate dreams…[Greenman's] protagonist is neither fully awake nor asleep. He is not a man of heartfelt insight or ethical honor, merely one trying to get by. Unexpectedly, the success of The Slippage lies in this hazy, in-between state of being, where Greenman can reflect on loneliness through his characters, adrift in their own personal grids of sadness.
Publishers Weekly
In Greenman’s perceptive yet predictable novel about suburban living and its discontents, William and Louisa Day are a childless couple in their early 40s at a crossroads in their marriage. After exhibiting some erratic behavior, Louisa surprises William by announcing that she’s purchased an acre of land and wants him to build a house on it. William’s relationship with Louisa is complicated by the other women in his life: single mother Karla, a former lover with a 10-year-old son, Christopher, to whom William acts as a kind of surrogate father; and Emma, a married woman he casually slept with a year ago at a conference, who—rather too conveniently for the story—writes to say that she will soon be living right across the street from him. Emma is pregnant, but makes it clear that she’s still sexually interested in William. With pressure at his job and fears that a pyromaniac is on the loose, William and Louisa nevertheless begin work on their new house. But will this be enough to save their foundering marriage? Although not quite as emotionally unsparing as Revolutionary Road, it’s interesting to note that in the almost 52 years since Richard Yates’s novel was published, the state of affairs in suburbia, at least according to author Greenman (Superbad), remains status extremely quo. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May)
Booklist
“Greenman’s style will appeal to those who appreciate literary fiction that succinctly yet eloquently dissects the contemporary American marriage.”
Kansas City Star
“Soccer moms and backyard barbecuers beware: Sleepy suburbia is about to get a wake-up call in The Slippage, a new novel from Ben Greenman. . . . His sharp insights into suburban claustrophobia and impotent rage are highlighted by striking images and well-tooled prose.”
PopMatters.com
“Greenman’s latest shout-inducing (angst-ridden and damned funny) novel, The Slippage, [is] a wry, wistful tale of marriage, lust, and disconnection.”
New York Times
“His most traditional and plaintive novel . . . Mr. Greenman rarely plays a wrong chord.”
New York Observer
“Mr. Greenman conjures the world of his characters in transporting detail . . . [His] keen descriptions, coupled with Mr. Greenman’s wry wit and inventive turns of phrase[,] are antidotes to the bleak narrative and make this novel difficult to put down.”
Interview
“Ben Greenman fascinatingly explores marriage malaise and suburban sadness. . . . Greenman brilliantly teases out the ache and tenacity underneath the everyday grind of the Days and the couples they know. . . . Greenman’s suburbs are lush with longing, and he captures solitude with an expert’s strokes.”
Chicago Tribune
“A wonderful, insightful, gleefully confident novel.”
The Rumpus
“Ben Greenman, prolific writer of experimental fiction, has written his own version of the Great American Novel.”
Time Out New York
The Slippage showcases [Greenman’s] talent for funny and incisive dialogue, and for creating a cast of intriguing characters. . . A provocative page-turner.”
Laura van den Berg
“In The Slippage, Ben Greenman illuminates the strange, electric moments that lurk in the seemingly ordinary milieus of the suburban kitchen, the married bedroom. With compassion and dark humor, Greenman brings the absurdity and grace of marriage vividly to life.”
Luis Jaramillo
“Ben Greenman’s The Slippage is a slyly funny and heartbreaking portrait of suburban American marriage, like an update of John Cheever in an age of smartphones and rampant corporate greed. This stellar novel asks whether it’s ever possible to see clearly-in love, life, or art.”
Darin Strauss
“With The Slippage, Ben Greenman proves what many of us suspected: he’s one of our best writers, and he can do anything...It’ll be the book of the year.”
Karen Russell
“Ben Greenman’s relentlessly funny novel engages with the mystery whereby a seemingly sane man can take steps to simultaneously solidify and destroy his life. Greenman is a brilliant and wry stenographer.”
Pauls Toutonghi
“Reminiscent of the greatest, elegiac work of William Maxwell, Greenman’s book is a reminder of the ways we fail, in love, and find grace in even that failure. This is truly a beautiful book.”
Emma Straub
“Ben Greenman’s The Slippage turns backyard barbecues and suburban playgrounds into tense and charged territory. . . . If Emma Bovary had lived in the ‘burbs, she would have left a story like this in her wake.”
New York Times Book Review
“…wry… In fluid and commanding prose, Greenman depicts this disconnected couple caught in the undertow of their unfulfilled early 40s. … the success of The Slippage lies in [a] hazy, in-between state of being. . .”
Karen Russell
“Ben Greenman’s relentlessly funny novel engages with the mystery whereby a seemingly sane man can take steps to simultaneously solidify and destroy his life. Greenman is a brilliant and wry stenographer.”
Interview
“Ben Greenman fascinatingly explores marriage malaise and suburban sadness. . . . Greenman brilliantly teases out the ache and tenacity underneath the everyday grind of the Days and the couples they know. . . . Greenman’s suburbs are lush with longing, and he captures solitude with an expert’s strokes.”
Jess Walter
The Slippage is a terrific novel, a wry and affecting depiction of an America adrift in its tidy cul de sacs of anxiety, lust, and disappointment. Ben Greenman writes crackling dialogue, brilliant characters, and sentences so sharp they hurt.”
Kirkus Reviews
Greenman's book examines the marriage and relationship of two imperfect, ordinary people. William and Louisa Day are a childless couple living in suburbia; he works in a midlevel office job and she in a museum. She asks him to build them a house to ensure that their lives together are moving forward, which he does. Isn't that part of the American dream? But he is dissatisfied with their life together, perhaps out of boredom or a vague feeling that he is trapped and unfulfilled. He is losing his footing, the condition he defines as slippage. A one-night stand with a married woman turns into an affair that adds a dimension to the story without apparently adding to William's happiness. It's a tale of middle-class angst with few events, although fire eventually consumes some of the readers' attention. Before that, a case of workplace violence makes one wonder if the story really takes place in the United States. In what company could a man punch his boss in the nose and not be permanently escorted out of the building on the same day? So, it's a not-bad story built on characters and interactions, with the events being incidental. Unfortunately, there is no omigod, what happens next. Will the marriage hold, the slippage stop? How about the affair? Where Greenman shines, however, is in his use of language, with William "foresuffering" in the novel's opening sentence. Later on, he looks up at the sky and sees a "gluttony of blue," and that's perfect. Another character "talked like a car whose brakes had been cut." Vivid imagery and metaphors bring life and a spark to what would otherwise be an ordinary literary exercise. A perfectly decent read, but it probably won't keep you up at night flipping pages.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061990519
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/23/2013
  • Series: P.S.
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,444,305
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Ben Greenman

Ben Greenman is an editor at The New Yorker. He is the author of the story collections What He's Poised to Do; Superbad; and A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love, and the novels Superworse and Please Step Back. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.

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