Let me tell you how much this book sucks.


The book in question: The Slap

So after all the hoopla about Uma Thurman’s face and all of the publicity it generated for her new show, I decided to see what ‘The Slap’ was about and saw that it was based on a book. The summary makes it sound compelling:

At a barbecue in suburban Melbourne, a man slaps a three-year-old boy across the face. The child, Hugo, has been misbehaving without any intervention by his parents, “the steely-eyed Rosie and the wimpish Gary”. The slapper is Harry, cousin of the barbecue host and adulterous businessman whose slightly older son, Rocco, is being threatened by Hugo. This event sends the other characters “into a spiral, agonising and arguing over the notion that striking a child can ever be justified. Some believe a naughty boy should be taught some discipline others maintain the police ought to be brought in to investigate a common assault” with a range of positions in between.


The book, however, is a pile of steaming garbage. Whoever wrote the summary is a genius. It’s not so much about a slap as it is a slap to the face to anyone with a fully functioning brain. The whole thing was just terrible. There were no redeeming qualities. At all. The book opened with some guy who was having some kind of affair with a sixteen year old veterinary assistant who works for his wife. Oh and he kind of hates his four year old son. And apparently doing speed in the middle of a family barbecue is okay and no one will notice. I was rather bemused at first by all of the silliness but after ten pages of it, I was already side-eyeing the author.

The actual slap is over in a matter of seconds and comes way too late in the book. By that point, I was already appalled. The way the book is written just makes it even more irritating. Each section is told from a different point of view by characters at the barbecue. That would be interesting if THE CHAPTERS WERE ACTUALLY ABOUT THE SLAP. But nope, they’re about the character and how awful they are (and how much they like to say the C word, because that makes writing so edgy), with maybe a passing mention of the slap.

The sixteen year old from the beginning, Connie, got a chapter and it is one of the most vapid, bizarre things I’ve ever read. We were treated to a particular explicit scene where she did something stupid with a shampoo bottle (see the last part I highlighted in the image below)

WHO DOES THAT? WHY WOULD ANY AUTHOR INCLUDE THAT IN THE BOOK? WHY DO WE CARE?

tumblr_mnspgeZzGV1spyvgro1_500

On top of that her father was a HIV positive bisexual who basically knowingly infected her mother. I have no idea what the reader was supposed to take from that either. Especially when the same character wishes she wasn’t so tolerant so she could throw some derogatory remarks at her gay best friend, just for kicks. Later on in the book, she lies and tells said best friend that the guy she was having the affair with (her boss’ husband) molested her. When her best friend tries to tell people, she lies and says it was him who was obsessed with guy. So the best friend falsely admits to it (why? We never find out!), gets slapped by his mother and runs home to swallow some pills. At this point, the book had already descended into some kind of soap opera-ish farce. But still… What the fuck does this have to do with the slap? And it was painfully obvious throughout the book that SOMEONE would be attempting suicide that the author basically just chucked it in there in about two pages. I was so appalled that I skim read to the end which was bland and uninspiring. I had high hopes they’d all be swept away but some kind of freak SyFy esque shark attack but nope.

I read somewhere that this book is misogynistic but I don’t even think it is. It’s people-gynistic. Or whatever. There was a undertone of racism throughout the whole thing, which, is basically kind of like a boring Australian (where the book is set) stereotype. Stereotypes might be true in same cases, but I don’t see the point in writing a pointless book about stupid, horrible people who don’t seem to undergo any change within the course of the story.

Take for instance, Harry, the perpetrator of the slap. He’s supposedly a self-made, wealthy business man who was just protecting his son. Of course by the time we get to his chapter he’s waxing lyrical about how much he wants to kill the child he slapped, as well as the parents. He’s also been having an affair with some woman (probably the least worst thing about him). He sort of switches between wanting to kill his wife and not wanting to (I THINK?!!!). He acts like he’s distressed about the slap and going to jail because so far he’s only ever had one misdemeanor, back when he was kid. Naturally, we find out later that he basically beats his wife on the regular, once to the point where he broke her jaw. Though the parents of the kid who was slapped are so awful themselves that I found it hard to give a shit when they took their case to the police.

I think the most abhorrent thing about this book is the way it just REFUSES to end. The chapter from the POV of some 70 year old man (someone’s father, maybe) literally sent me to sleep. It was about funerals and dying and just, I get this this is supposed to be some kind of social commentary on life in Australia for all ages, blah, blah but there’s probably someone out there who’s done a better job… a much, much better job. This book is just…awful.

At one point I was outrage-highlighting but I gave up in despair. Here are some parts I did highlight though:

fgs

To conclude, avoid this book at all costs! It’s just douchebags being douchebags.

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6 thoughts on “Let me tell you how much this book sucks.

  1. And to think I figured it couldn’t get any worse after seeing the ads for the show! That book is repulsive and stupid. Why would anyone think up such stupidity and then want to share it with the world??!! The author should be institutionalized. Stupidest, douchiest thing I’ve seen all year.

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    1. The funny thing is that the book won a bunch of awards and has already been adapted to TV in Australia. Very strange. Must have been a bad year for books when it came out. I don’t mind characters being douchey but the book still needs to have some substance. This just irritated me. Speaking of books, do you know of any good ones to read? I’m about to go back and finish The Princess Diaries. LOL.

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  2. OMG Christos Tsiolkas!!! All his books are vapid and overhyped. I went and bought Loaded because it was supposed to be the greatest coming of age story ever and nothing happened and the voice was so so so off for the character’s age and culture. Thing is, he’s Greek-Australian, and that means he has a built in fan base because the Greek-Australians, especially in Melbourne, adopt EVERYONE as family even if they’re from completely different islands/towns (even countries, thanks Macedonia!) and support each other to levels that seem ridiculous to outsiders. I mean, I’m Irish-Australian and I got adopted and was given a Greek name and people bought me stuff and it got way out of hand. So. That’s how that happened. That and the trend towards slow “dramatic” “literary” television, and someone at his publishing company is really good at coming up with blurbs that make his books seem way more interesting and deep than they are, probably because it’s cheaper than editing so that his ideas and characters find their way out of his style.

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    1. Yeah, I remember reading something similar about the Greek community in Australia and them liking his book on Goodreads. Well, good for him, I guess. Greek-Australia is welcome to his books, so long as I never have to read one again, lol! I’m all for shades of grey characters but his writing is just awful. The summary writer needs his own book contract or something because they made it sound amazing. Call me old fashioned but I liked it when characters actually progressed in novels but alas, this type of Gone Girl-esque ‘bad characters being bad’ trope is becoming more and more popular.

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      1. He’d do better making all his stories 2k ficlets on AO3 where everyone knows not to expect a traditional narrative arc because it’s a ficlet and its suppose to dive in and tease these things out. But a book of ficlets wouldn’t make money, so.

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        1. 2k is too much. He can just do 100 word drabbles and get 40,000 kudos for his troubles (do fics with that much use bots…? I’m always suspicious of them).

          ‘But a book of ficlets wouldn’t make money, so.’ — it probably would. The Slap was essentially a book of shitty fics, so I can only imagine that his fans would be all over a condensed version like a Supernatural fan girl on a Padalecki ponytail of doom.

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