Friday, March 19, 2010

a retraction (kind of)

I panned 'The Slap' in my last blog post, having not finished it, but now that I have I feel I may have been a little unfair. In the last few chapters of the book I came to care about the characters, I feel a lot of the threads pulled together, and the hopeful notes toward the end redeemed what would otherwise have been a very bleak book. It ended on a good note, with a sense of satisfaction as well as a tantalising glimpse toward the future. As I theorised back in my early adolescence, a bleak story should always end on a hopeful note. That was my formula, and I was reminded of it here.

But I do not feel I can really be entirely positive about this book. I mean it took me until the last few chapters to feel anything much other than annoyance to the characters, to feel that I understood them at all, and to actually enjoy this book. Sure, a good ending is a good thing to pull off, but if you don't enjoy the rest of the book then there is still a problem there.

I think the way the book was structured was something of a double-edged sword. Each chapter moved the story forward but was written from a different perspective. This let you get a different perspective on the characters and events, but it also created something of a distance, in that it didn't give you much time to get to know each character. Overall I think it was an effective technique, but it contributed something to my annoyance through the beginning of the book (as well as reading through the perspective of some of the more annoying characters). In the end it contributed to a feeling of well-rounded-ness as everything came together, or past events seemed to click. But as I said, is pulling it together at the end enough?

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