I was expecting a complex book with nuanced characters who made me question right and wrong. I was looking forward to being morally challenged about the ethics of hitting the child.
I got none of the above. Instead, I got shallow characters obsessed with sex, drugs and being horrible to each other, who made me question how on earth this book won awards.
Despite growing up in a middle class family in a city only 80km away, and living in multicultural suburbs of Melbourne for three years, not a single thing was relatable or familiar other than the geography.
Is that really how the people up the highway behave?
I was working in a dodgy pub in St Kilda at the time the book came out and not even they threw c-bombs around as much as the characters in the book, or took as many drugs (and they took a LOT), and they certainly had more depth and weren’t as shallow and horrible as the characters in The Slap (and there were some seriously horrible people there).
It felt entirely unrealistic and like an excuse to hate on women and the middle class.
It goes nowhere. A child is slapped and then followed by 500+ pages of vile people being vile. It delivered none of the complexity and nuance a book set around slapping a child suggests.
And this was my real issue with The Slap.
Looking back at other books I’ve read this year, I couldn’t relate to anyone or find anything familiar in Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip, or Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, but I thought they were both great reads.
Those characters were complex and nuanced, those narratives were well crafted, and although I couldn’t relate to anything, they felt real because they had depth. None of that is present in The Slap’s characters or narrative.
Like Gail Jones’ The Death of Noah Glass, The Slap, with its string of accolades, promises, but doesn’t deliver.