131 of 151 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Melbourne book for Melbourne people
Christos Tsiolkas is a Melbourne writer and The Slap is a Melbourne book. It delivers a number of portraits of Melbourne types - the Greek car dealer; the Indian vet; the soap opera world; the gay teenager; the bogan mother and more. The portraits are all loosely linked to one another, deriving from a barbecue at which the horrid bogan toddler is slapped by the Greek car...
Published on 17 May 2010 by MisterHobgoblin
293 of 324 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Throw another Point Of View on the barbie.
This is a long book and it took me a while to get into it. I was in fact on the point of abandoning it when it eventually did pick up a bit. One of the problems is that at the start you are confronted by a large cast of characters and I for one was a bit bewildered trying to keep up with who everyone was to begin with. Anyway, I did persevere and I am quite glad I did...
Published on 30 May 2010 by doublegone
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293 of 324 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Throw another Point Of View on the barbie.,
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Programme (What's this?)This is a long book and it took me a while to get into it. I was in fact on the point of abandoning it when it eventually did pick up a bit. One of the problems is that at the start you are confronted by a large cast of characters and I for one was a bit bewildered trying to keep up with who everyone was to begin with. Anyway, I did persevere and I am quite glad I did although this is by no means a perfect book.
An adult smacks someone else's misbehaving child at a barbecue and the ripples from this event spread out through a chain of eight different people whose point of view we are given one after the other. If you pick up the book and have a glance at the blurb you might get the impression that it sets out to explore the rights and wrongs of the slapping incident - but the smack seems to be there merely to offer a link between the characters. The book is really a portrait of contemporary and cosmopolitan Australia. As such it is reasonably interesting but plot wise its difficult to glean any point to the story as we meander through the lives of the eight narrators.
I must add that I am quite surprised how many other reviewers have been upset by some of the language used in this book. The dialogue contains fairly run of the mill swearing and its puzzling to imagine there are poor flowers out there over the age of 8 and outside of a convent who are offended by this. Similarly some of the characters exhibit casual racism but we are it seems to me supposed to disapprove of them for this. Exposing such racism makes this an anti-racist book in my opinion. There is racism in Australia, and sometimes people swear. Its odd to think some readers think this is the author's fault. It seems an honest and accurate depiction of a society to me.
This is a flawed book though, and not as engaging as I would have wished.
540 of 623 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Slap,
At a BBQ in Melbourne, Australia, a four-year-old boy named Hugo is acting every bit the insufferable, entitled, disruptive and unpleasant infant his parents have brought him up to be. In an effort to calm the rowdy and precocious boy, a man who isn't his father slaps him in front of the entire gathering.
The domestic corporal punishment of children is a contentious issue; even more so when the chastisement is delivered by a non-parent. In some countries (not Australia) it's completely illegal, and in most parts of the world the concept is associated with a niche of old-fashioned parenting, perhaps synonymous with the traditionalist right.
Child slapping has also received an unprecedented amount of media attention in recent years; it's an issue about which everybody has an opinion - even if you've not been a parent, then you've been a child - making it perfect fodder for the popular novel. Perhaps this universal interest accounts for the novel's ridiculous sales record; it's currently the best-selling book of the 2010 Booker Prize longlist, and according to some sources, it's sold a staggering 5000% more copies than its closest competitor, Room by Emma Donoghue. These sales figures can probably be attributed to the book's provocative subject matter; but if you were feeling particularly cynical, you could argue that 'The Slap' has sold so well because it's the only paperback on the Booker longlist.
The narrative is divided into eight very long chapters, each told from the perspective of a different witness to the slap. The first thing I noticed was the ethnic and cultural diversity of the cast of characters at this neighbourhood barbecue. The entire social rainbow is represented in 'The Slap', and the novel's dramatis personae reads like the fantasy guest-list of an equal opportunities officer: there's an Indian-Australian, Greek-Australian, Aboriginal-Australian, naturalized white Australians, a black Muslim, a Catholic, a Hindi and an atheist; young, old, gay, straight, single, married and divorced; with careers ranging from the unemployed to car mechanics, doctors, vets, writers, actors, waitresses, shop-keepers and carpenters. I'm not saying that such a sundry group of tight-knit friends doesn't or couldn't exist (if anything, I admit that `realism' is an elastic and ambivalent critical term), but the cast smacks of misguided political correctness.
Concordantly, the social and economic diversity of the characters exposes Tsiolkas' laziness as a writer; he resorts to the most basic exploitation of social conflicts in order to create dramatic tension. It's indolent, lacks depth and is border-line offensive in its reductiveness.
However, despite their differing cultural heritages, the characters in The Slap all share the same, uniform personality. It's a psychological homunculus applied to every single protagonist. They are all (without exception); adulterous, quick to anger, violent, vain, profane, selfish and judgemental. The eight characters that the novel follows may as well all be the same person. They're not presented as anti-heroes, nor are they unpleasant in an appealing or curiously attractive way; they're just horrible, horrible people, and I thank God that Tsiolkas' vision of society isn't at all close to reality.
Supposedly, each chapter gives us a different viewpoint on the slapping of Hugo. I was hoping that, as the novel progressed, a complex discourse would develop; one that analyses the various moral and social implications of hitting children. But in truth, Tsiolkas has absolutely nothing to say on the matter; nothing in The Slap is enlightening, contentious, creative or insightful. The fall-out from the titular event lasts no more than fifty pages, and the writer doesn't contribute anything of interest to the debate. Only the two simplest of viewpoints are implicit in the narrative, and these the most garishly polar of the debate: `The kid deserved it' versus `nobody should hit a child'. What's more frustrating is that Tsiolkas refuses to express any kind of authorial opinion - lest he alienate a percentage of his potential readership, I imagine. The book is reluctant to fall down on either side of the child-slapping debate and thus lacks any argument or imperative whatsoever.
The prose can be defined by two stylistic idiosyncrasies: firstly, there's a constant use of expletives and secondly, an obsession with gratuitous sex.
I wish I could say the language was witty or shocking, but it's merely tedious in its verbose repetition. Every page of the book drips with profanity rather than insight; it seems that Tsiolkas can only articulate his characters' emotions with expletives; from happiness to sadness, everything is described in four-letter words. To say the novel suffers from a lack of linguistic breadth would be an understatement. Maybe this is how the average Australian speaks (which I doubt), but after 500 pages of it, I just had to let the pointlessly crude language wash over me, meaninglessly - surely this is not a good thing?
I found the novel's sex scenes to be equally pointless. I don't consider myself a prude, or squeamish, but the sheer amount of gratuitous sexual imagery in The Slap acts as nothing more than distracting filler. At times I was confused as to whether I was reading an attempt at literature, or soft-porn. Generally speaking, I discourage sex scenes in novels; unless they develop a plot, comment on themes or are in some way vital to character development, then I find them irrelevant. The language and imagery used to evoke sex in The Slap is cliché-riddled, ineloquent and unintentionally farcical. I don't want to see the characters having sex for the same reasons that I don't want to see Elizabeth Bennet slowly eating breakfast, or Jack Bauer voiding his bowels - it tells me nothing, it means nothing; I feel nothing.
Parts of the novel are also frustratingly difficult to read. There's a frequent confusion of pronouns, for example:
"Hector told Harry that he was in trouble."
The meaning of this sentence is ambiguous; is it Hector that's in trouble, or is it Harry? It isn't clear from the context and while I could forgive such a misguided construction if it were a one-off, this type of grammatical error is alarmingly common-place. Similarly, the second-half of the novel is riddled with typing and page-setting errors, take the following three examples:
`Brutal' she head [sic] her aunt say, `it's just brutal'.
`I'm going to put then [sic] kids to bed'
`Harry shouldn't have het [sic] that child.'
It's as if Tsiolkas' editors got bored half-way through the book (who can blame them?), and decided to give up. I find such a proliferation of typos in a printed novel to be utterly inexcusable and a detriment to the veracity of the medium.
'The Slap' is a complete failure; a book that promises so much but delivers so little. Supposedly, it's a heated and controversial novel about a much-debated moral issue; in reality The Slap makes no contribution to the child-slapping discussion. It offers no original insights or ethical commentary, and doesn't even do a good job of couching the debate in terms of its pros and cons. The actual event, `the slapping', is over in an instant and is soon forgotten about in favour of long, gratuitous sex-scenes and uninteresting personal disputes. I'm sure that the novel's ostensible subject matter will make it popular with a certain type of coffee-morning book group; but I'm also confident that, like me, most readers will be disappointed by the novel's refusal to engage with the issues at hand.
I cannot fathom why the Booker Prize judges saw fit to nominate this novel to their longlist. Don't read it. And if you happen to see Christos Tsiolkas walking down the street, feel-free to give him a much-deserved and well earned slap across the face.
131 of 151 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Melbourne book for Melbourne people,
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Programme (What's this?)Christos Tsiolkas is a Melbourne writer and The Slap is a Melbourne book. It delivers a number of portraits of Melbourne types - the Greek car dealer; the Indian vet; the soap opera world; the gay teenager; the bogan mother and more. The portraits are all loosely linked to one another, deriving from a barbecue at which the horrid bogan toddler is slapped by the Greek car dealer. But the novel is not plot driven, it is 100% character focused. There is no great ending to draw it all together; the novel might as well be seen as a set of short essays.
The demographics, the reported movement of families around the northern and eastern suburbs was revealing. Melbourne is undergoing great social change right now - as it has probably done since its foundation. There is a reference to the soaring real estate prices, with a knowing assertion that a million dollar shoe box is still a shoe box - although more colourful language was used to make the point. The implication, clearly, was that the people living in it might have become millionaires but they are still what they ever were.
The Slap also charts the changing social attitudes in Melbourne. There are three distinct generations in the piece - teenagers; forty-somethings; and the grandparents. Each generation had thought they were the rebels; the trailblazers but then get swept aside by the next generation. It's all a matter of perception, and after reading old man Manolis's section one can't help but think that today's young rebels, rude, brash and arrogant have a somewhat easier life than their ancestors.
The Slap does a great job in giving life and expression to ordinary Melburnians. It offers a convincing vision and conveys a strong sense of place. It is long, involved and very much a slow burner. It probably isn't going to appeal to those looking for a strong story - which is a pity because that's what the cover promises. It may not seem relevant to people who don't know Melbourne; people who might not understand the social and racial interplay that is going on. And it certainly isn't Neighbours with its short, twee plotlines, weekly cliffhangers and easy resolutions. This is serious literature, weighty in both paper and meaning. But it may not travel well.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars CRAP,PAP,BOOKER IT FOR TIMEWASTING,
Why? For all the reasons others have stated in their negative reviews of the book.
If you think Damien Hirst is a genuinely a great artist,then you probably have the mentality to appraise this crappulus book as a great work of modern literature,when in fact ,like Hirsts so called art installations ,it falls apart,and really stinks.
CAN I HAVE MY ONE STAR BACK PLEASE.
82 of 99 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars don't bother,
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not just a slap......,
By the 5th narrative I was a little tired of the changing view point and would have preferred slightly less characters, that said as someone who dislikes multi-narrative books this one held me for a long time. It is a book I'd recommend to some without caution, but would hesitate to share with those of a more sensitive or 'prudish' nature. It would make quite a good book-club book in that people seem quite divided on how they feel about it, and it does raise discussion points
46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful,
I'll start by saying I'm not a prude, and sexual content and bad language don't bother me. But this was the entire book, constant swearing and constant sex. In fact if those parts were taken out of the book, it would have been half as long. The actual storyline regarding the slap itself was merely a backdrop to all of this.
Normally when I read a book I can relate to certain characters and that really gets me into the story. Not in this case. There wasn't one character I liked, they were all horrible people.
I got 2/3 through and realised I was completely wasting my time so I didn't even finish it. And believe me, it takes a lot for me to totally abandon a book.
I have absolutely no idea why this has won so many awards. Worst book I ever read.
35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very boring soap opera,
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Long, boring and superficial.,
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I hated it!,
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)DO NOT BOTHER READING THIS BOOK. How on earth it came to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize I do not know. If it has taught me anything, I now know not to trust any statement associated with so-called "literary prizes" emblazoned on the front of a book. It clearly means bugger all. For some unknown reason, the author is obsessed with the C word (which I swear was being used on every page at one point in the book). Message to Mr Tsiolkas: Most people do not enjoy reading that word over and over and over. It loses it's sting. Save it for an absolute must moment. Or better still, buy a thesaurus and expand your vocabulary a little.
Readers: Save your pennies and buy a latte instead.
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The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Paperback - 17 Mar 2011)