Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Slap - Tsiolkas

The Slap (Christos Tsiolkas) is billed as the story of a group of friends and family who, while enjoying a barbecue one summer, are forced into a difficult situation. During yet another squabble brought on by one of the family's children, one of the fathers (but not that child's father) reacts shortly and slaps the child. Just a slap. But this event sets off waves of repercussion.

Umm...ok. A child gets slapped. A family takes legal action.  That equals about 20 pages (generous). 

The rest of the story is...uh, just filler.  This book is a series of chapters, each from someone new's perception. But each person's perception of the event equals no more than 3-5 pages of each 20+ page chapter. And the rest of the chapter is totally unrelated and random.  So, each time you read a new chapter...its like beginning a new short story (a genre I'm not particularly big on). This drove me crazy!  I had to drag my way through 20 pages of non-related drivel to get back to what I considered the story at hand (the slap).

In theory, I guess I was supposed to get to know each character more personally...and that would be  a good thing. Except, it wasn't. Each time I had to get to know someone new, I kept wondering what any of it had to do with the story. And that "getting to know" went on...and on...and on...and, you get my point.

And, these characters were not people I would want to know. I was left feeling like the author was living vicariously through some of these folks...and not in a good way.  Of the four men who the author highlights...three of them cheat on their wives (one in a memory of going to a brothel, but a cheat is a cheat), the fourth is a gay kid who takes drugs. Um, ok.  Of the women, one falsely accuses someone of rape. One loves her husband only because he's handsome...and cheats on him, but then spends pages getting angry that he cheated on her.  Need I go on, really?!

To be fair, the book was not badly written...otherwise I would have just canned it and not finished. But I really wanted to know where all this was going!  So I forced myself to read...and, you get it. And, ultimately, *spoiler alert* it went no where. The book resolves, but not in any "ah, that was totally worth it" or "I get it now!" sort of way.

Ultimately, the experience of the book is to wallow in each of these horrible character's lives and truly understand how horrific and terrible life is overall. 

Uh, no thanks. That's ok.
2/5- Just okay.  Choose with EXTREME prejudice.