Books, life the universe

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Slap

I finally got to the end of The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. The plot idea is good: man slaps child - not his own - at BBQ; child's parents report him to the police and the case goes to court. The basis of the plot is the reverberations around the circle of family and friends - some of whom support the parents and others support the perpetrator of the slap. The book is divided into sections - each of which concentrates on an individual who was at the BBQ.

Here it all goes pear shaped as far as I'm concerned. The obnoxious swear word on the first page; the violent impulses of many of the male characters; the concentration on bodily functions; and the obviously endemic racism against anyone who isn't exactly like the character whose thoughts the reader happens to be privy to at the time. Yes I'm sure the writer is accomplished and he paints an interesting and accurate(?) picture of middle class life in Melbourne. But do people in Melbourne really behave in this way? Are they constantly fantasising about attacking their wives or any one else they don't happen to like at that moment?Misogyny is rife and what a man says goes. The women who attempt to stand up to them are mainly defeated.

I found I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters and the book was about 250 pages too long for me. There was too much verbiage; too much irrelevant back story for all the characters which clouded all the issues. If the author had concentrated on the ripples spreading out from the slap and nothing else it would have been a powerful story. As it was, I felt there were at least two novels trying to get out and to remove most of the second one would have left a much better book.

No comments: