Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Slap

I've just finished reading 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas. It was a bit sex-obsessed for my liking, but I thought it was a gripping story and I enjoyed the story coming from a number of different perspectives, through different characters' chapters.

Physical discipline of children is such a fraught issue, and that is not the only complicating factor for the people in this story. Some politically correct views are challenged and there is not a pat solution. Other politically correct perspectives on sexuality, relationships and fundamentalism were not questioned at all.

The portrayal of drug-taking was often as positive, particularly with regard to experimentation and I would want to be more cautious than this. It made me wonder if I am very sheltered and prudish because my experience of illicit drugs is limited and I don't have such an open acceptance of their ubiquity and desirability.

It stood out to me, how much personal history, family and experience shape the reactions of each character. Every person had pain, loss or misunderstanding which was at the source of their broken behaviour. There was also a clear message about the need for forgiveness in order to bring healing.

The mother of the child who is slapped, seeks retribution on his assailant. She is a deeply needy woman, both trapped by and idealising motherhood. She is obsessed with her son and the need to be a 'good' mother, but overwhelmed by his possession of her. The sad implication was that her nurturing of her son was going to be a source of future problems for him. That is a searing possibility which I don't like to consider in my own life. But if I don't, how can I work to stop it happening?

I would recommend this book, for the ideas it raises. It is well written, and accurately portrays the dilemmas and blindnesses of our society.

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