The Slap Review

By | June 25, 2012

The Slap
Christos Tsiolkas

Paige’s Rating: (2) of 5
Recommended for: Fiction Readers

 At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event. The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires.

This book had all the bones to be a great novel: the topic is one that is controversial and edgy and the idea of writing it from the perspective of eight different characters is interesting. I was given this book along with five others and chose to start with this book first. It took me about a month to finally finish it. Why?

While the premise is right on, the details of the novel are sloppy. The first chapter from the perspective of Hector introduces so many characters, half of which are irrelevant later on in the novel. The characters are also very flawed; their personalities are wretched and there are not many redeeming qualities to them. Yes, the author attempted to make the reader sympathetic to some of the characters but it was not near enough. In this way, I felt that the novel failed to connect to the reader, at least this reader. And dear friends understand that I am by no means saintly. With that said, even I still found the characters gross and disgusting.

Speaking of which, the plot had a lot of disgusting sexual scenarios. As much as I enjoy some steam in a novel, the sex in this novel seemed forced and intentional to cause discomfort and bring the characters down to a primal level. And again, that is fine but not if you want the reader to eventually connect with the character and find the character redeemable. The characters also swore a lot, which again is not something I would normally find offensive. However the swearing seemed again, forced and done simply for shock value.

The language, being vulgar, is bad enough but the dialogue between the characters is ridiculous. The characters often lapse into internal dialogues, which are indistinguishable from the regular plot. Often, I was reading and got lost as to whether what I read was the plot or the characters personal thoughts. This is just sloppy writing, in my opinion.

The plot is interesting and I really did enjoy all eight characters’ separate stories; however, they all tended to drag on and the characters with their warts and all still became predictable and dare I say, boring. I actually skipped ahead in some areas because I either 1) knew what was about to happen and then 2) didn’t even care. I wasn’t invested in the characters at all.

And I get it. I understand that the author is trying to remind us bluntly that we are humans and that our society is becoming increasingly ego-centric and destructive. But this message is so loud and clear that you simply want to shut the book and say, “I get it. Some people really are selfish and suck. So?” After all, how does that pertain to me when I am not in any way connected or sympathetic to the characters?

A good try and a fantastic message, but I feel like The Slap is just a little too harsh and brutal. A nudge would have been more my liking.

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