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The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

The Slap (2008)

by Christos Tsiolkas

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,595None4,547 (3.26)235
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» See also 235 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 114 (next | show all)
I couldn't put this book down – personally, I found the coarse language a bit tiring and predictable, but I ploughed on through. The detail would tire most people, but I thought the author was very competent at evoking a milieu and so chose to enjoy it instead. Some of the characters were unconvincing: there needed to be more contrast between them. Other than that, it was interesting to see the different characters through different minds' eyes. ( )
  m-andrews | Jan 26, 2014 |
Seemingly happy lives turned upside-down when a man amongst an established group slaps an unruly child while at a social BBQ. Lines are drawn between friends, family and acquaintances. Does this child or any person deserve to be slapped? Who is at fault: the aggressor, the victim, the parent, society, no one?

It's hard to like any of the characters, as they are written without filters or societal expectations - their thoughts come crashing out of the mouths, exaggerated with hate, with little heed to the situation or subject. They also have a real-world sexual manner (or appetite?), both physical and fantasy, that is far from the censored romance one finds everywhere. The coarseness of each character makes it difficult to hold sympathy or empathy for them. Perhaps it is so difficult to like the characters because they are mirror images of our worse selves.

Hard to read. Hard to finish. Hard to shake, whether it's for the controversy, gossip or lack of satisfaction. And yet I would recommend this book for just as many reasons. This being my first Australian author, I could have everything wrong. ( )
2 vote Sovranty | Dec 27, 2013 |
I finished reading this book last night. I am not impressed but I can't put my finger on why. When I was partly through this book I wrote a long diatribe about how much I hated it (posted here), but it doesn't fully explain everything I think about it. I think what annoys me is that I am thinking about it. This book shouldn't warrant such an excruciatingly long reviewrant, and yet here I am still wanting to lash out at the book.

I will keep the initial rant below for posterity sake, but I just want to sign off on this book. I didn't like it. It was poorly written, had no redeeming characters. It was full of drug use, sex, and abuse, all without any redemption. Everyone I read has something to say about it but I just feel like the book is asking me to cast judgement on these people, and I don't want to. I don't want to judge them, and I just don't care.

****************************This is what I wrote earlier***********************************

I am at the 20% mark, and it is tedious. The book is really badly written and the subject matter is just too heavy for me to be bothered caring about.

The author suffers from a classic case of "telling" instead of "showing", the problem with this writing style is that it very often leads to characters that are at odds with their descriptions, ie the author tells me how good they are but all the reader sees is them acting like an arsehole (Pillars of Earth by Ken Follet is a classic example). It also means really clunky reading that feels like it is written by a teenager. The following line feels so familiar that I am sure I have read it a hundred times (probably in all the badly written YA dystopian stuff I was reading last year) - "She would never leave the house without make-up or proper clothes on. Not that she used much make-up; she had no need to... He had never been fond of girls who wore thickly applied foundation, powder and lipstick".. *sigh* This is all at odds with the man who is having an affair with a teenage girl.

Every so often the author throws in words that nobody uses, I had to pull out the dictionary to find out what 'ennui' means, or uses odd phrases like having the protaganist 'storm into the kitchen', he wasn't angry, he had no reason to storm, I presumed he stormed because walking seemed to easy. I particularly loved when he (she- no this is definetly the work of a man) writes "Private school boys always seemed effete; private school girls were up themselves". I hope you internally changed your voice while reading the two lines. The first, with a word like 'effete', is snobbish, and the second is boganish.... What is the author going for? If we are using words like 'effete' then surely we would use a similiarly affected word in reference to the girls?

So with 80% still to go I can tell you the book is hard to read. It is hard to get past the clunky vulgarity (did I mention the sex, wanking, more sex, swearing, crude fantasies). In this regard it reminds me of a cross between [b:The Bride Stripped Bare|64179|The Bride Stripped Bare|Nikki Gemmell|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1355080716s/64179.jpg|375], [b:Eat, Pray, Love|19501|Eat, Pray, Love|Elizabeth Gilbert|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1294023455s/19501.jpg|3352398], and the aforementioned [b:The Pillars of the Earth|5043|The Pillars of the Earth (The Pillars of the Earth, #1)|Ken Follett|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1309285683s/5043.jpg|3359698] - I hated all of them.

The book does have a plot, actually it has quite a few, and if I could get past the bad writing there is a possibility that it might be enjoyable.

The protaganist is disgusted by the behaviour of his 3yo nephew (I think he is a nephew), he is disgusted that he didn't go to bed that one time when they babysat him (because every 3yo goes to bed easily and without fuss, especially in strange house away from their parents) and because he throws a tantrum (because good 3yo kids never throw tantrums). The kids throws a tantrum and is about to kid someone, an adult steps in a slaps him. This is our plot. The readers job is to weigh in and take sides and discuss the whole thing. Who was in the right, debate and enjoy.

But alas, I am the wrong audience for this kind of storyline. I am a tired mother with two pre-school aged children, actually I would like to think I am smiliar to the protaganist's wife (patient and good with her kids), but I know that even the protaganists kid threw tantrums when they were 3yo.. I know this because all kids do. The author seems oblivious to this, the author is writing this unbelievable story about a guy who thinks his kids are so well-behaved that they always went to bed perfectly and never threw a tantrum. It just makes me too tired to even want to discuss whether the slap itself was warranted. The main character is a jackass who is oblivous to anything, I know most of this is intended, but some of it isn't.

The story would have been much more believable if the child had been 5 years old, I would be more interested, but I stopped caring when the author told me that a 3yo could reasonably be expected to never throw a tantrum (which is ultimately what the author is writing). I am supposed to accept that the child was slapped and that he was ill-behaved enough to warrant a slap. Then I have to go away and debate a what age he should have stopped being breastfed and if it was the parents fault that he was such a badly behaved child.

Gah. If you hated those other books I mentioned then you will hate this. Download the sample, mock it and tell me how much you hated it too. ( )
  alsocass | Oct 12, 2013 |
Starts with family having BBQ. Man slaps child who is misbehaving. Tells story of all the people at the BBQ. Most of the people are coarse and display their worst selves. Lots of swearing awkward sexual encounters. Gets better towards end of book. Does not show the best in people. ( )
  latorreliliana | Jul 18, 2013 |
So this is one of those zeitgeisty books that buzzes into all of our nice middle class concerns - soiled children, doped up sexy teenagers, false rape accusations, ageing, domestic vioence, race and religion, parenting, the economy, dashed hopes and failed aspirations, private education, consumerism, tourism, euthanasia, death and birth, childlessness, adultery, homosexuality, AIDS, culture - and that's just off the top of my head. Clever Christos to bring all of that into an engaging read that mostly flows very nicely through a series of monologues loosely centred around the slap of the title. It's a rich picture of life, not too shocking, but transgressive enough to feel a bit risky and confrontational. As the book cover says, a good one for the beach..
  otterley | Jun 5, 2013 |
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His eyes still shut, a dream dissolving and already impossible to recall, Hector's hand sluggishly reached across the bed.
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Book description

Although this is Australian author Tsiolkas’ fourth novel, it is the first to be published in the U.S. With its raw style, liberal use of profanity and racial epithets, and laserlike focus on the travails of suburban life, it is a down-and-dirty version of Tom Perrotta’s best-selling Little Children (2004). At a barbecue in a Melbourne suburb, a man loses his temper and slaps the child of the host’s friends. This incident unleashes a slew of divisive opinions, pitting friends and families against each other as the child’s parents take the man to court.
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At a festive barbecue in the Melbourne suburb a man slaps the child of another couple, triggering a court case and a variety of confrontations within the lives of the the families and friends present.

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