Customer Review

308 of 342 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Throw another Point Of View on the barbie., 30 May 2010
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
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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.
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Comments

Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Jun 2010 11:53:21 BDT
Helpful review. Great heading!

Posted on 14 Jul 2010 09:46:11 BDT
Antenna says:
I agree that this review makes some telling observations.

Posted on 24 Aug 2010 23:05:47 BDT
M. MacCana says:
I think you've missed something - the entire point of the perspective switches, as well as developments further toward the end of the book, very much explore the moral details of the slapping incident - not in the simplistic sense of 'right' or 'wrong', but in terms of cultural and generational values as well prior knowledge of each character's prior behaviour.

Posted on 7 Nov 2010 19:30:22 GMT
Valentine says:
I don't agree with you about the swearing. I'm no prude, but the constant swearing is both unnecessary in a lot of places to the plot and - after a while - just plain tiresome. Am halfway through the book and only continuing as it's my book club's choice. It's a good portrayal of contemporary society, but hardly the 'great Australian novel' some reviewers seem to think.

Posted on 24 Nov 2010 20:57:45 GMT
Bookish says:
I agree with 'Valentine' - I would not consider the 'c' word to be run-of-the-mill swearing, it is very offensive to most people.

Posted on 12 Jan 2011 09:35:26 GMT
Your review is spot on. More about 4 central characters than the actual slap. Yes the swearing is uncomfortable to read at times, but I can appreciate the realism the author is trying to portay. A book to persevere with. As usual, I find that it's best not to get too hung up with who's who and just go with the flow. The characters have a way of revealing themselves to you as you get into it.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jan 2011 21:36:55 GMT
juliaruth says:
My objection to the language is not the swearing itself but the fact that the first page and a half of the book is too tricksy by half. It doesn't come out of the dialogue - at least not in the small part I have read but is a cheap device, self-consciously outrageous, to provoke a reaction. It made me want to slap the author. A lurid description of farting and the c-word twice. Most authors could do better than that. The great Australian novel? I doubt Patrick White's reputation has anything to worry about. But what would I know? The first two pages bored me and I don't feel any inclination to read further. Life's too short.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 May 2011 15:26:03 BDT
Mjer says:
"I must add that I am quite surprised how many other reviewers have been upset by some of the language used in this book. "

I do not object to the bad language: it just does not add anything.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jul 2011 18:19:24 BDT
Polly P says:
I would agree. I am a secondry school teacher and think I am familiar with what is commonplace swearing but the language in this book is just tedious, as is much of the prose. As a description of someones life I do not need to know (repeatedly) that they are going to the toilet and I do not need it to be described (repeatedly) by an expletive. My English teacher (and my mother) told me that swearing was the sign of a limited vocabulary.

Posted on 13 Aug 2011 11:39:58 BDT
L. McCarthy says:
Completely agree with this. I'm only 17, so I suspected my reasons for not taking much of a shine to this were due to the fact it was a book aimed towards a more mature audience. I often found myself bored when reading this, I felt some of the character's plots were strretched far past the limit, and others weren't written about enough. By and large I do enjoy point of view books, but this really disappointed me, it seemed to veer off the topic far too frequently and it certainly does have more mature content than I originally expected (A sex scene in practically every chapter? C'mon!) I'd only really recommened this as a summer read to people, it's not entirely engaging and you aren't required to devote your entire attention to it.
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