Study Questions for "Bay" and "The Specialist's Hat"

Once more, begin your inquiry into the nature of each story by considering narration, setting, and character. Then proceed to consider how each story might contribute to an understanding of slipstream as a genre or literary movement. Here are a few study questions about each story to further prepare you for our discussions of the stories; as you consider the stories individually, also think about what features they might have in common:

"Bay" [2003] by David Erik Nelson

  1. Nelson sets his story in a bar where the protagonist/narrator is relaxing with a drink. This typically non-threatening environment is, of course, not the usual setting for a ghost story. What does Nelson do to transform this into an eerie, disturbing setting and to create a sense of estrangement?
  2. What assumptions does Dan, the narrator, make about the stranger who has begun to tell him the haunted dog story?
  3. By the end of the story what have you come to understand about the stranger telling the haunted dog story? Who or what is he?

"The Specialist's Hat," initially published in the November 1998 issue of Horizon Online

  1. This story's setting, unlike that of "Bay," is typical of ghost or horror stories, to some extent setting it apart from Nelson's story. Despite this distinct difference, can you identify any similarities between the two stories in their addresses to narration and characterization?
  2. What traditional elements of a gothic horror story can you identify in this tale?
  3. Who or what is the woman in the woods that the twins' father meets?
  4. By the end of the story, what do you come to understand about the unnamed babysitter?
  5. Finally, is this simply a gothic horror story, or do some attributes make it slipstream fiction?