Monday, May 18, 2009

The Slap

My concentration seems to have improved and I have finally managed to do some reading. In the past couple of weeks have read both The Slap and Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas. It was interesting to read his first and latest novels in this way and to compare the differences between them. Loaded was a Ulysses-esque day and night in the life of a young gay-ish Greek boy from Melbourne. It was an angry, uncompromising drug fueled sex romp through the homes and streets and clubs of early 90s inner city Melbourne. I liked it and am not sure why I didn't read it when it first came out. I could certainly relate to a lot of it, although my early 90s experience was in Brisbane. The Slap on the other hand was more assured, more adult, not so angry but equally uncompromising in its' own way. The sex and drugs are both still there and I was pleased to see the teenage characters going to parties and the Big Day Out and getting wasted just as the young and the not so young are wont to do.

The premise was interesting - the accounts of the lives of eight people who were present at a bbq where an angry man slaps a badly behaved 3 year old child who is not his own. The ruminations on marriage and family and parenting really spoke to me and certainly as a new parent it provided a lot to think about. Some critics have mentioned that the characters are not terribly likeable but I think that misses the point and that most of us wouldn't come across as terribly likeable if all of our inner thoughts were revealed in the way that Tsiolkas reveals the thoughts of these characters. I thought it was pretty true to life. I liked the structure although I wanted to read more about Gary, the alcoholic father of Hugo, the boy who was slapped. And, for a sleep deprived mama it was a pretty easy quick read. I bought it on Thursday and finished it on Saturday night, happy to return to my old habit of gorging on a book, reading it at every spare moment until it is finished. And I heard on the news yesterday that Tsiolkas won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for The Slap - well deserved I reckon.

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