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The slap

by Christos Tsiolkas

Is smacking a child considered abuse? Modern political correctness suggests it is but by the time the 'slapping' incident takes place in this story, quite early on, I was already as much provoked and ready to strike as the character in this story. Not that the 'slapper' was a particularly likable character and, even more controversially, the child he 'slapped' was not his own but momentarily I felt empathy.
Initially shocked at the language from page one the strength of the writing drew me into this suburban Melbourne clique of families and I found myself caught up in the unpalatable hidden truths of their lives. The incident of the slap delivered during a barbeque of friends becomes the catalyst for unfolding of the story from 8 different veiwpoints. Most of the characters are unlikable and I found the portrayal of casual drug use, sex and violence in their society disturbing and confronting. At the same time there was an awful familiarity of people struggling and striving in tension filled relationships that was totally compelling.
I found it to be compulsive and thought provoking reading but would be tentative about recommending it to all.

Suggested by PT, Victoria, Australia

Tagged with: compelling



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