This novel has an ambitious idea, encompassing a wide range of social, familial subjects and having them all surround one central event, a slap. However, the author ultimately failed to make this idea fly through his punishing overwriting and a glaring lack of good supporting ideas to string all the loose ends together. The result is something both insufferably bulky and curiously unsubstantial.
Constructing conflicts, extended plots around one event is not in itself so rare. Ian McEwan, for one, has crafted numerous wonderful, heart-wrenching tales rooted in singular mistakes or misunderstandings. In this book, however, the author couldn't live up to the challenge of creating a catalyst seismic enough to power an entire chain of events nor coming up with plausible aftermaths of said catalyst. The slap itself was given ample descriptive treatment both before and immediately after its occurrence, but that this incident lacks intensity and relevance became evident quite soon afterwards. By then, after the author has set up a gigantic scale for the book, setting up the stage with a staggeringly big cast, it's just a disaster waiting to unfold. And indeed we had to then witness how the writer loses grip on those characters one by one, slowly, uninterestingly, over almost 500 pages.
The ambition of the project is commendable, with the author tackling such diverse issues as race, class, friendship, family, integration, sex, youth... all at once. But it's painfully obvious that he has taken on much more than he can chew and just started wandering at some point in his writing which desperately needed editing and a focus. The characterization is also unsatisfactory. Many of the emotional response and subsequent reactions of the characters were so immediately implausible that they just ceased to be relatable altogether. In all, this proved to be quite a drill to get through....Continua
At times irritating and depressing (or both), but always entertaining, an extremely well-written, multi-voiced novel.
Not sure if 3 stars are enough, but 4 stars are probably too many. I did like this book and found it very engripping, extremely interesting characters and portrait of the Australian society today. I liked how the book is built, with every chapter told by a different carachter without loosing te smoothness of the plot. On the other side it is full of f.. and c.. words and my big question is: are Australian families really that hippy-free on drugs and alchool with the kids???...Continua