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Friday, June 04, 2010

The Slap, by Christopher Tsiolkas

The Slap

Chirstopher Tsiolkas'sThe Slap just gets better and better until the final pages, which are fantastic! So often I quit reading novels when I get to the ending, because so many books with promising openings lose their momentum about halfway through.

The Slap is worth reading for its simple premise (a man slaps a kid who is not his own at a suburban picnic), and it's structure - it's told from the povs of 8 characters, in 8 sections, and each character's life reverberates with the lingering sting of the slap as marriages, friendships, and partnerships are tested and reevaluated. Each character in The Slap manages to be grippingly interesting, perhaps because each has something they've been hiding, and each must decide what to do with that secret. And there are so many sparkling sentences!

The book takes place in Melbourne, Australia, which resembles Zadie Smith's London in that people of many cultural backgrounds and types now coexist, almost comfortably (but not quite), and as a result, existence is dynamic. Which resembles our world, really.

The most interesting theme in this book is that profound change and growth happen when one has the opportunity to go in a brand-new direction and then, after carefully weighing the options, chooses instead to stick with the life that they already have, a life that, for all its seeming predictability and mundanity and flaws, is nevertheless remarkable.

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Blogger Blasé said...

I spank my wife. Is that considered a "slap"??

7:03 AM

Blogger ing said...

Call it what you like, I guess.

2:44 PM

Blogger Ticharu said...

Yer back! So am I sort of... after a fashion... as it were :)

And you're NOT middle aged!

5:25 AM

Blogger ing said...

Hey, there! What's happening? How's your corn cob house and your vegetable garden?

At 42, I'm afraid I qualify as middle-aged. Which, I figure I should just say it, say that I'm middle-aged, and then maybe I'll come to embrace it. Because for a middle-aged woman, I realize that I've maintained all the best qualities of youth (except that I am not nearly as flexible - maybe yoga will help with that).

8:14 AM

Blogger Ticharu said...

Hey Ing, yoga is essential, tai chi, riding a bike, walking everywhere, gotta stay active or middle age will become medicated real fast!

I'm still building the house though I don't live there anymore... long story, everything changes :)

8:21 AM

Blogger ing said...

Yes, everything does change, doesn't it? When I was a child, I guess I hoped that I'd reach some kind of apex somewhere in my mid-twenties, and then things would stay the same for the rest of my life, and that would be ultimately satisfying.

Not so.

I ride my bike everywhere, and I go running, and I eat lots of fruit, too. But I don't do enough stretching. I would love to try tai chi! Especially if I could do it at home or in a nearby park.

8:29 AM

Blogger Ticharu said...

I think it's the all too brief moments that are level and happy that we've got to hang onto. Up the hill and down the other side... there's probably another hill after that!

8:42 AM

Blogger purplesimon said...

Late to this post, but yes, a brilliant novel.

BBC4 did a short TV series of it. Don't know if it's available in the States. Keep an eye open for it. Quite a good adaptation.

Hope you're well, Ing.


5:04 AM


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