Monday, December 19, 2011

Prepare to be Slapped...

The Slap
By Christos Tsiolkas
ISBN: 9781848877993
Allen and Unwin
4 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Audience recommendation: Not for the faint-hearted. This is an intense, emotive read dealing with subject matter that forces you to acknowledge that humans are not so perfect or nice all the time! 

I chose The Slap as my bookclub’s book and it certainly was a fantastic book to discuss. As it so happened, my colleague and I read it around the same time, so each lunch hour I was eagerly reading it and then we would discuss the story as it unfolded. And this was a story that certainly got us talking. One of my concerns in writing this review was that I had so much to talk about - I have tried to streamline my thinking and discuss the points that impressed or disappointed me the most.

Now...let’s see...disappointed me, um, well, thinking, thinking...nope can’t actually come up with anything too disappointing (except for a few too many masturbation scenes)!

I had to agree with my colleague – it seems that readers either love it or hate it. I definitely sit on the ‘love it’ side of the fence and can understand why it has won numerous awards and caused so many people to form some pretty strong opinions about it.

Most people who don’t like the story say that they don’t like the characters, thinking they are just a bunch of rude, beer-swigging, swearing, sex-crazed ‘Australians’. And sure, the characters aren't likeable, and yes the story depicts Australians in an unflattering light. But I actually think that these types of characters could be anyone from anywhere.

I actually appreciated the fact that the characters weren’t likeable because each character is complex, realistic and dimensional. They are not sugar coated, sickly sweet and totally unbelievable.  I didn’t feel it necessary to ‘like’ the characters, I wanted to be challenged by them and drawn to read about them – and this I most certainly was.

The story is simple – friends are gathered at a BBQ and a little boy is slapped, but not by his parents. How the parents, friends and man who slapped the child react and deal with this is the obvious focus of the plot but because each chapter is told from a particular character’s point of view (so 8 characters), the reader gets to really delve into the thoughts and issues that plague these characters.

I was at times a bit overwhelmed by the extreme level of some character’s thoughts and actions and as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t ‘like’ any of them. To me they were characters that needed a bit of a slap themselves. However, they all had problems as a result of some deeper issue, they were all just trying to muddle through life.

I felt sorry for some, I really hated one, I was annoyed by them but it was these emotions that confirm the fact that Christo Tsiolkas is a very clever writer. Tsiolkas demonstrates that people have reasons for doing things - not necessarily excuses for their wrongs - but there are always two sides to any story. He also forces the reader to accept that humans are crazy, silly, stupid, pathetic, selfish and spiteful at times – we are far from perfect. Tsiolkas also successfully creates some very interesting relationships between the characters, which to me seemed so realistic and intricate.
The Slap is a book that pushes the reader past some emotional boundaries while studying many aspects of humans, their relationships and society. It is not a ‘nice’ read or one that I would recommend taking on your Christmas holiday – but if you are eager to be challenged and are prepared for the intensity of it – this is a brilliant read, one of the best stories I have read in a while.

Monday, December 5, 2011

New reviewer for the WLC team!!!

I am very excited and proud to be chosen as a reviewer for the WoMen's Literary Cafe! I will be given the privileged of reviewing various books written by some outstanding authors and hopefully help bring readers and authors togethers. Check out this fantastic opportunity at WoMen's Literary Cafe

Friday, December 2, 2011

Looking for something rare...

For my fellow booklovers who are looking for a special rare or second hand book...head to this fantastic online bookstore!
Reading Habit Second Hand Books Online Bookstore
Here you will find over 40,000 fiction and non-fiction titles that include collectible, antiquarian and rare books, for really great prices!
I have also joined their community so that I always know what little gems they have on offer. 
It is a great shop and a wonderful community - perfect for all us lovers of all things 'books' (no matter how old or rare they may be, we love them all!)