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Why I Wrote Slipstream:

reviews read chapter 1 In my early twenties I was on a flight from London to Los Angeles when, over the middle of the Atlantic, the plane started falling out of the sky. There was no warning; the flight had been smooth and uneventful. We dropped for what seemed like forever. A group of Italians in the back of the plane screamed, the armrests flipped up, loose objects hit the ceiling. Then we seemed to hit an invisible net. The plane bounced up and continued on its way. No one ever came on the intercom to tell us what had happened.

I didn’t go anywhere near a plane for four years after that. Gradually, I did started flying again, but I’ve never been able to forget that feeling of freefall that overcomes me whenever I step on a plane. As a result, I spend a lot of time in airport bars. On one occasion I missed my flight in San Antonio and spent three or so hours in the bar. Hardly anyone was there. A woman’s golf tournament was on the television. The bartender was a quiet,  middle-aged guy with a pock-marked face and something very intelligent and watchful about his eyes. When he set down my napkin and took my order I told myself that I was going to write his story, because I felt that he definitely had one. We all do, of course, but I felt like I knew his, or that I wanted to. So for the three or so hours I sat there,  I watched him. I thought of everything he saw, all the people coming and going, all the stories he heard. I watched his customers talk to him, telling him about themselves, and the unobtrusive way he nodded and attended to everyone’s needs without revealing anything about himself. Anyway, after a few beers, I took out my notebook and started writing then and there. He became Wylie and his story, and my novel, began at that moment.

When I began the project, I envisioned it the story of people and their work. Among the characters would be a bartender, a dishwasher, a phone sex operator, an Avon lady. I was interested in the particulars of the often tedious work that consumes most of our daily lives, the pride we take in it, and how it defines who we are and what becomes of us.

Like all promising projects, this one quickly got out of hand. Some of the minor characters started hogging the limelight while pivotal characters withered on the vine. Their lives began to crisscross and tangle in ways I hadn’t planned. Families emerged. Characters weren’t interested in working and when they were it was for all the wrong reasons. I began to realize how these characters’ stories would combine to make one story, how they would come together for a moment that would change all of their lives. And I discovered that people’s work was just one aspect of the larger, deeper thing I really wanted to explore, which was people’s desires. Desires we’re born with that never go away, desires we never realized we had, desires we thought we’d let go of, but never really did. Desires that lie at the bottom of our hearts as we go about our business of serving drinks, or mopping floors, or selling Avon.

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© Leslie Larson, 2010. All writings and artwork on this website are the creation and copyrighted property of Leslie Larson and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the author.