Friday, April 13, 2012

The Slap

The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas
Sometimes when everyone is talking about a book or TV series, you feel you should try to figure out what all the fuss is about.

So, I tried The Slap. I started the book months ago, left it for a while and finally finished it, purely because I felt I should.

My husband read a review of the TV series when it aired last year (not realising it was based on a book) and suggested we watch it. We didn’t even get to the actual slap in the first episode, before he turned it off disgusted.

For those who haven’t heard of it The Slap is a recent Australian novel, set in current-day Melbourne. A group of family and friends are at a BBQ, when a man slaps a misbehaving child that is not his. The novel charts the stories of 8 people at the BBQ in the coming months and how their relationships change as a result.

I know this book got rave reviews, as did the TV series. But truly I thought it was awful.

The story and the people were dreadful, I didn’t want to know these people, I couldn’t care about them, they were so appalling. It is full of swearing, drug use, adultery, bad marriages, alcoholism and misery.  It didn’t seem to me that any one of them had any redeeming features.  None learnt anything. None tried to be a better person.

Two things struck me upon reading it:
  • I know no one like this. If this is an accurate portrayal of the average Australian life, I do not know many average Australians. And boy, does our society need the penetrating truth of the gospel.
  • Modern, edgy writing has absolutely no appeal to me. Give me some old-fashioned manners and respect any day.
It’s one of the few books I have reviewed here that I do not recommend!


Sarah said...

I haven't read the book, but I watched the series and wrote some thoughts on it here

I kind of liked it...but not. I liked it in that it broached territory not often explored (probably because most people have such strong opinions on it). But it left a bad taste in my mouth and a sense of despair for the characters.

I actually have met some people who are a bit like the characters in the fact that they are constantly drinking, using bad language, in dysfunctional relationships etc. I think it was meant to be a more 'below the surface' look at people.

Jenny said...

I agree Wendy - the book was a shocker (and I'll pretty much read anything!). The TV show was better (not saying much though) than the book - partly because the clothes/houses at least provided a visual distraction from the awfulness of the characters.

Wendy said...

Thanks Sarah & Jenny,

I think you are right Sarah - it was meant to get a deeper look at the characters, which it did. It was just such a depressing look at them!
Thanks for the link - you make some helpful points about the TV series, although I must say I have no intention of watching any more of it!