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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The new Catcher in the Rye?
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this little book, having read such mixed reviews of Tsiolkas's better-known novel The Slap. But this one - his first, and pretty short at 151 pages - sounded right up my street, so I thought I'd give it a go!

I was actually very pleasantly surprised. It is an almost stream-of-consciousness narrative from the fascinating...
Published on 13 Feb 2012 by Miss E. Potten

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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Take The Scenes Designed to Shock Away and This Would Have Been Really Impressive
The narrator of `Loaded' is quite a fascinating one. Nineteen year old Ari lives in the city of Melbourne in Australia, he is Greek, he has no job, he is gay but secretly, he loves nothing more than going on massive drink and drug fuelled binges preferably with lots of random anonymous sex along the way. In fact from the first page where the novel opens with Ari...
Published on 3 July 2011 by Simon Savidge Reads


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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Take The Scenes Designed to Shock Away and This Would Have Been Really Impressive, 3 July 2011
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Loaded (Paperback)
The narrator of `Loaded' is quite a fascinating one. Nineteen year old Ari lives in the city of Melbourne in Australia, he is Greek, he has no job, he is gay but secretly, he loves nothing more than going on massive drink and drug fuelled binges preferably with lots of random anonymous sex along the way. In fact from the first page where the novel opens with Ari masturbating with a massive hangover you pretty much know the story that you are getting here, well you think you do at least, as we follow him for the next twenty four hours.

Initially I didn't think there was really any plot. In fact if I am honest I had written this book as one of those `lets write a really shocking book that gets me published even if it's a cliché but everyone will read it anyway' kind of novels. Yet as we read on between all the drug taking, drinking, etc there is a lot that this book is looking at and saying. One of the main senses you get is a sense of needing to belong, to be a part of something and yet rejecting that very thing at the same time.

Its about fitting in and identity and in the case of Ari he doesn't feel he fits in with the culture (because he is Greek and is Australian yet doesn't feel he can be both) or with his sexuality (he hates the term `gay', only sleeps with `men' not `faggots' and still sleeps with women when he is bored or drugged enough) and these things both add to his sense of feeling like he doesn't belong in his family and that environment. In fact the family dynamic is another thing that Christos Tsiolkas looks at in `Loaded' and this family is pretty dysfunctional. The parent's of Ari, Peter and their sister Alex are volatile to say the least, one minute screaming obscenities at their children, next minute joining them in having a cigarette and an afternoon whiskey or three.

These were the moments when I thought Tsiolkas had the book spot on. We see other friends of Ari's like Joe (very heterosexual) and Johnny (also known as Toula when in drag) and then through Ari's sharing of their back stories get an insight into why they have become addicts, be it to the drink, the drugs or the sex. This was all brilliant and I could have read much, much more should Tsiolkas have written it. Instead sadly we get these marvellous moments of character and prose and then its back to the sex.

I don't have an issue with sex in books; I'm not prudish, if there is a reason behind it. Twice in this book there is, one scene illuminates us to Ari's self image issues and the psychology behind that and what he does to try and rectify it, the other proves a violent then emotional scene between Ari and someone who might just steal his heart. The latter was actually an incredibly effective piece of writing, so much sad in the violence and the silent post-coital cigarette after. Yet when we manage to have about six graphic sex scenes and several solo efforts within 150 pages I was just thinking `do we need this?' It let the rest of the book down rather a lot.

All in all `Loaded' is an interesting book. It is also a book where the effects of the wondrous prose is almost extinguished by the graphic scenes `set to shock' and light up the readers indignation, or whatever effect was meant to be achieved. Take 85% of the sex away and you have a cracking and insightful read into the lives of some mixed up teenagers in the early 90's, and an interesting insight into some of Australia. Sadly with the sex left in some of that is lost, and so sadly was this reader.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The new Catcher in the Rye?, 13 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Loaded (Paperback)
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this little book, having read such mixed reviews of Tsiolkas's better-known novel The Slap. But this one - his first, and pretty short at 151 pages - sounded right up my street, so I thought I'd give it a go!

I was actually very pleasantly surprised. It is an almost stream-of-consciousness narrative from the fascinating mind of Ari, a nineteen year-old gay Greek boy living in Melbourne. Ari is simultaneously an aggressively confident young man, and completely conflicted about everything, veering between vehement certainty and utter helplessness. He isn't entirely at ease with his sexuality, his friends come and go around him, he despises the confinement of traditional Greek life, and he has absolutely no sense of where he's going - despite his occasional protestations to the contrary. All he really knows is that he loves movies and music, sex and drugs, and that being loaded keeps him calm, quiet and ALMOST content. The novel drags the reader along for a 24-hour ride inside his head as he snorts, shags, drinks and meanders his way through another day.

A few times as I was reading I found myself thinking, "Wow, THIS is what I wanted when I read The Catcher in the Rye!" I didn't identify with Salinger's whiny Holden Caulfield at all, but I rather liked Ari. His voice is angry, passionate, intelligent and provocative, and even when I didn't agree with him I couldn't help but feel a admiring respect for his brutal arguments and perceptive observations. I think as a character, he is so interesting because he can so readily see the beauty of other people and places and situations, yet seems to be incapable of translating that beauty into his own life and future. I really felt for him!

Despite all this, I didn't give LOADED a higher rating, because although I was completely absorbed in Ari's world, it was quite slow going (perhaps surprisingly, given that Ari is sky high for half of it) and I don't think it will ultimately be a particularly memorable read. There were one or two moments that really made me cringe, particularly the scenes in various clubs around Melbourne which invariably contain awful descriptions of dancing - frequent mentions of 'jumping around', and what moves Ari's 'working in' from his dance repertoire. I found these parts incredibly jarring - though perhaps Tsiolkas intended them to be that way, to reflect the way Ari's drugged mind made some unnaturally slow and conscious decisions about even the most mundane of things? Who knows - all I know is, I didn't like it much.

At any rate, Ari was a wonderful guide to the seedier underbelly of Melbourne life - the dark alleys for fumbling liaisons, the tangled, insular existence of the many different ethnicities on the outskirts of 'skip' society - and I liked the novel enough to give The Slap a try at some point. I also ordered the screen adaptation, Head On - Special Edition [2000] [DVD], which I'm rather looking forward to. Recommended for those who don't mind their literature buzzing, explicit and occasionally a little uncomfortable, even as it forces them to stop and think about the world from a new perspective.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense and well-written, 17 Jun 2001
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This review is from: Loaded (Paperback)
The first time I heard of this book was when the film was released. Luckily I read it before I went to see the movie. The movie was OK but lacked the intensity and subtlety of the novel. Finally a gay story that's totally different from most of the standard gay fluff. You immediately get sucked into the story only to surface at the end. Amazing!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, 2 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Loaded (Kindle Edition)
I finished this book quickly since I found the nihilistic attitude of the narrator totally depressing and mostly uninteresting. I could discern no real cause for the narrator's negative and destructive lifestyle, save, perhaps, the fact that he clearly identified the Greeks in Australia as an ethnic minority and "victims" - mostly of their desperate desire to remain Greek and not become Australians. A pointless and uninteresting story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A study of youthful alienation, 26 May 2014
By 
R. A. Brown (Hove, E.Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Loaded (Paperback)
I imagine this short, pungent novel of youthful alienation has been likened to 'Catcher in the Rye'. Both books are told in an idiomatic first-person voice by a teenage boy who lifts the lid on dark aspects of youth culture. But this novel - focusing as it does on sex (mainly gay), drugs and race - seems to me the stronger, more uncompromising and mature of the two. In terms of comparisons with other (gay) novels, I was reminded more strongly of that classic from the '70s, 'Dancer from the Dance' by Andrew Holleran - but with all the romance and lyricism and glitter stripped out of it. This, by contrast, is an angry book, a sustained rant, it celebrates nothing, least of all being young, gay and proud. It revels in its sodidness. It is fiercely anti-romantic and honest.

If you are not used to reading such in-your-face narratives you may well be offended by the language and the casual racism expressed by its protagonist. You may well find its vision of Australian youth depressing and perhaps not entirely credible. It appealed to me because of its clear-eyed lack of sentiment and its willingness to use the idiom of its subject.

Ari, 19, of Greek origin, lives with his parents and two siblings in Melbourne. He is unsure of his sexuality, finding girls attractive but preferring sex with men of all ages and appearance. Naturally, he is at war with his ferociously critical parents. He fancies George, a friend of his brother's, a longing which pervades the book but which, true to form, when consummated is anything but romantic. The story spans twenty-four hours in which Ari sits around smoking dope, arguing, drinking, partying, dancing, clubbing, all with a shifting crowd of friends and acquaintances. Chief among them is Joe, who is 'selling out' to bourgeois convention, and Johnny, childhood friend, first sex-partner and transvestite; there are also a number of interchangeable female friends; though Ari is essentially on his own. I'm not sure how he survives the industrial quantities of drugs and alcohol he consumes in that twenty-four hours, and the four separate bouts of oral sex with different guys, plus all the dancing and partying and driving and walking and talking and being stoned, but he turns up at home the next morning still not entirely out of his mind.

The book is really about Ari's alienation from the cultural values of his immigrant parents and the Western values of Australian culture, such as love, work, responsibility, family, compassion, settling down, etc. Ari comically summarises his rejection of this in 'Five transcendental moments', such as 'Thou shalt not give a s*** what people think.' (Sorry about the asterisks. Amazon won't allow me to use what they call a 'profanity' even in a quote from a book which is full of them and which they are happy to sell on their site.) Each moment is linked to life-changing events in his life or a state of mind; each 'is the acceptance of original sin ... to be born human is to be f***** up.' It's a nihilistic view based on disgust and profound disappointment in what society offers to the young. Yet in a curious way there's something very positive in this rejection. How much this alienation is caused by youthful hormones and how much by being gay is not explored in the novel, perhaps because they would only provide partial explanations at best. The ethnic group you belong to seems to be a more determining factor in this respect. But the book does end with Ari beginning to accept he's gay, and this is a chink of light in his dark and chaotic life.

A powerful novel, then, uncompromising and honest, told with flair, integrity and not a little courage. Whether it really mirrors a section of youth culture I don't know, but as a vision of alienation it's gripping.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intense and real, 4 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Loaded (Kindle Edition)
An intense monologue from a disturbed young man who wants to be loved but is full of anger and fear.

Ari feels trapped by his culture and his sexuality. He's a gay teenager from a Greek family in Australia. He is like a caged animal, not knowing how to escape. He's in a downward, drugs-fuelled spiral.

Tsiolkas's novel is honest and fresh. We care for Ari and yearn for him to make a right decision but know that the drugs are winning.

A sad but inspiring piece of writing.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the film..., 23 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Loaded (Paperback)
I saw the film "Head On" half a year ago and just thought Pwoarr! Well lucky me I found the book on sale here in tiny Copenhagen. And I read it in one go. It has been a long time since I have ever read of such a desperation in a book, the film is nothing compared. It's written in a delightful frankly language and with an energy that make you loose your breath. The best I have read in a long time, and that is compared with "Glamorama"... Read it...
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It doesen't hurt!?!, 20 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Loaded (Paperback)
Take Catcher in the Rye, remove the innocence and the excellence, mix with liberal quantities of speed, ecstacy and anonymous gay sex simmer in an Australian pan for an hour, garnish with feta cheese and voila - LOADED. The only reason to go out of your way to read this book is if you are determined to get an alternative view of Australian manhood although Ari is still a very macho hero. Loaded has great pace and is very easy to read, and so, thankfully, takes up very little of your life so if you've already ordered it - don't worry!!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, 25 April 2013
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This review is from: Loaded (Paperback)
A dismal boring story. Waste of money and leaves one totally dissatisfied with whatever the novelist is trying to achieve except that life for the kid is desolate.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, 31 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Loaded (Kindle Edition)
TERRIBLE .I would not recommend this book to anyone.If you enjoyed TheSlap do not read this completely different book .
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Loaded
Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas (Paperback - 5 Jun 1997)
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