The Slide Area Analysis
by Gavin Lambert

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Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Slide Area” is almost an essay about Los Angeles, the United States, the state of civilization, and the nature of reality, with Lambert’s thematic points illustrated by brief scenes involving his characters. The story is arranged as a series of snapshots of the people and places the narrator encounters, with his impressions of them as they relate to his view of the world. As is appropriate for a Hollywood story by a film critic and screenwriter, the style is cinematic: a series of seemingly random images that come clearly into focus with the Zeena scenes at the end. The film it most closely resembles and seems most influenced by is Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder’s cynical 1950 vision of death and despair in Hollywood.

Lambert’s cinematic style can be seen in the close-ups that he presents of his characters’ faces to capture their emptiness. The countess’s face “looks like the moon after an explosion, the features are blasted fragments.” Zeena “has once been beautiful, but now her face has something ruined about it, as if she’s been waiting too long, in vain, for the telephone to ring.”