“He let out a victorious fart” (Booker Longlist)

Below, the first paragraph from Christos Tsiolkas’ novel The Slap, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize yesterday.

His eyes still shut, a dream dissolving and already impossible to recall, Hector’s hand sluggishly reached across the bed. Good. Aish was up. He let out a victorious fart, burying his face deep into the pillow to escape the clammy methane stink. I don’t want to sleep in a boy’s locker room, Aisha would always complain on the rare, inadvertent moments when he forgot himself in front of her. Through the years he had learned to rein his body in, to allow himself to only let go in solitude; farting and pissing in the shower, burping alone in the car, not washing or brushing his teeth all weekend when she was away at conferences. It was not that his wife was a prude, she just seemed to barely tolerate the smells and expressions of the male body. He himself would have no problem falling asleep in a girl’s locker room, surround by the moist, heady fragrance of sweet young cunt. Afloat, still half-entrapped in sleep’s tender clutch, he twisted onto his back and shifted the sheet off his body. Sweet young cunt. He’d spoken out loud.

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8 thoughts on ““He let out a victorious fart” (Booker Longlist)

  1. Sure, the writing isn’t bad, but it’s wrong in the head. It’s pretty common nowadays, writing books in toned down versions of the slow contemplative voice (I subvocalise, so I’m being pretty literal when I use the word slow) used by the likes of Coetzee, Chandler and Eliot (T S, not George). Problem is that most of these books’ stories don’t warrant the use of that voice.
    There was a book that parodied this, Unruly Times by Prashant Bhawalkar, though not specifically, it was parodying the Indian identity novel. Whatever, the voice parody works especially well.

  2. I am forcing myself to read the book, which is pretty awfully written. Not in the sense of crap writing per se, but exactly what you mention, the weighty contemplative voice. Tsiolkas does lots of interesting things, the characters are promising, he tunes in people like Joyce for notes and images, but the writing itself is really really weak.

  3. Pingback: Christos Tsiolkas: The Slap - World Literature Forum

  4. Not a terribly persuasive first paragraph for me.

    Is he a particularly crude character? The not washing or brushing his teeth at the weekend, I don’t think I know anyone who does that. The not brushing teeth bit anyway (on reflection, I have known men who if nobody was about didn’t bother washing, but that was nobody, not just no women).

    Much more seriously, it feels like it’s trying to shock. I always find that tiring.

  5. No, you are right, it’s not persuasive. I bought the book when an Australian writer recommended it to me, it being a great reflection of people and a society he knows, despite its literary failings. The book is divided into sections focusing on different characters, and I’m now in the second section, which seems horribly cheap media blather.

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