Tag: Loaded

Merciless Gods by Christos Tsiolkas

Posted December 13, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Short Stories / 8 Comments

Merciless Gods by Christos TsiolkasTitle: Merciless Gods (Goodreads)
Author: Christos Tsiolkas
Published: Allen & Unwin, 2014
Pages: 304
Genres: Short Stories
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

As most people know, I am a big fan of transgressive fiction and in Australia there is one author that doesn’t shy away from a touch or taboo subject. This author is Christos Tsiolkas and he is best known for his two recent novels The Slap and Barracuda. Merciless Gods is his first collection of short stories and deals mainly with sexuality, family and identity.

Author of six novels, Christos Tsiolkas was born in 1965 to Greek immigrant parents. Reading through his novels you quickly get the sense of what it must have been like growing up in suburbia as a Greek immigrant and a homosexual. He likes to explore these themes constantly and you get an idea of just how backwards people’s thinking can be. Then with his breakout novel The Slap, he challenged everyone’s thoughts, tapping into the universal dilemma around discipline and child-rearing.

Merciless Gods seems to be more of a “return to his roots” collection of short stories, which shares similarities with first novel Loaded at any of his other. There is this whole theme about social and personal struggle that play out within these stories. I am impressed with the way Tsiolkas challenges people’s views; particularly when it comes to sexuality and immigrants. There was a particular story that he wrote in Greek and then translated into English that was very powerful.

Christos Tsiolkas has officially become an ‘auto-buy’ author for me now and I will have to read the rest of his backlist sometime soon. Merciless Gods is hard-hitting and not for the faint of heart, he is pushing the boundaries but he does this really well. I am not sure when these stories were originally written, I think that will be interesting to know. However if you have never read this great Australian author, this is probably not the best place to start. Maybe begin with The Slap or Barracuda before working your way up to Loaded and Merciless Gods.


Monthly Review – January 2014

Posted January 31, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyHard to believe that the first month of 2014 is over, it has been amazing to see how much excitement people are having towards The Literary Exploration Reading Challenge. For those who don’t know about the reading challenge, there is still time to join in the fun, so check out my introductory post here. Most people were busy enjoying the reading challenge, so our group read, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, didn’t get talked about much, but from what I’ve read it has all be very positive.

I’ve been off to a flying start this year, I’ve read seven books which is surprising since I have no reading goal and I want to take my time with reading. Most of those books go towards the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge and you can find my own record of the challenge here. I’m thinking about trying to read two books for each genre this year and I’m keeping a record of every book and which genre it best fits into on that page as well, just to see which genres need more attention in my exploring.

Highlights of the month for me include; Books by Charlie Hill, 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, All That Is by James Salter, The Last Girlfriend on Earth by Simon Rich and Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas. Also a special mention to my current literary obsession Gary Shteyngart; I read his memoir Little Failure and bought all his books (with the exception to Super Sad True Love Story, which I already owned), I hope to read all his books this year but I’m sure other books will get in the way. So what have you been reading this month?

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Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas

Posted January 25, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 42 Comments

Loaded by Christos TsiolkasTitle: Loaded (Goodreads)
Author: Christos Tsiolkas
Published: Vintage, 1995
Pages: 151
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Ari feels very much alone in the world, a Greek immigrant, unemployed and struggling with his sexuality. That is to say he has a same sex attraction but his friends and family would never approve of that. In Christos Tsiolkas’ normally overlooked Loaded we follow Ari through his struggles as an outsider in this autobiographical novel.

Christos Tsiolkas is a critically acclaimed author with books like Barracuda and my personal favourite The Slap. It is a shame that his debut novel Loaded just doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Was this published at the wrong time? I remember the nineties as a time where homosexuality was thought of as disgusting; granted I was still in high school in a small backwards country town but I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for someone that actually was struggling with their sexuality.

What little I know about Tsiolkas, I’ve come to the conclusion that Loaded was a reflection of his own struggles living in Melbourne with a traditional Greek family that expects so much from you. They went through all the effort to move to Australia in the hopes for a better life; the least you can do is make the most of it. Do well in school, get a good job, marry and have kids. What if this isn’t part of your plan? How would your parents react to this news?

I had to read this book for university, right after studying Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness so I’ve naturally made some connections between the two. Marlowe and Ari are very similar in the sense they both are outsiders, though one deals with this during colonial times and the other is a post-colonial take. Without going too much into the parody of Heart of Darkness, because my mind has really made some interesting connections (some are probably a stretch). The different ways the two protagonists (Heart of Darkness and Loaded) are portrayed as loners in a world that doesn’t feel like home were done in interesting ways.

The whole sense of belonging is a huge part in Loaded; even the way Christos Tsiolkas talks about Melbourne is done as a parody. In Tsiolkas’s Melbourne people are divided into different cliques, much like a diverse multi-cultural city, but there is also are separation into the north, south, east and west. This is interesting to see the separation of power, wealth, religion and culture; sure this normally happens in a normal city, each suburb seems to be stereotyped as a good or bad neighbourhood. In Loaded the division is more extreme, highlighting all these groups of people and showing the reader just how much Ari doesn’t fit in anywhere he goes.

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My Upcoming Reading List

Posted November 22, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in What are you Reading / 12 Comments

the sign of fourNext week I start a university course called Literature and Politics. I’m actually nervous and excited about starting this. I’ve been doing an English Literature course part time but work has been pretty full on so I’ve moved to online university. This will mean things will be a lot more flexible and should hopefully give me the time to manage both work and study without them interfering. What I wanted to share with you; the entire point of this post was my awesome reading list for the summer thanks to this course.

  • Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

How awesome it this list? So many great books that I’ve read or excited to read. A reading list like this really does wonders to your nerves.


Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Posted November 3, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Fiction / 10 Comments

Barracuda by Christos TsiolkasTitle: Barracuda (Goodreads)
Author: Christos Tsiolkas
Published: Allen & Unwin, 2013
Pages: 528
Genres: Literary Fiction
My Copy: ARC from Publisher

Buy: Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Danny Kelly’s dream is to win Olympic gold, and he even transferred to a prestigious private school to help realise this goal. But at this school he was an outsider and was shunned by the rich boys that attend. His coach believes in him, but the rest of the swim team doesn’t and this could start affecting his confidence. Danny’s win at all costs ferocity drives him and his psychotic approach earns him respect as well as the nickname Barracuda.

Christos Tsiolkas is best known for his highly controversial, but brilliant novel The Slap. Going into this book I worried that this wasn’t going to live up to my expectations of the author but I was surprised. My prediction for a clichéd ‘overcome all odds to achieve greatness’ type novel may be right but it is also very wrong. That is the basic plot but I forgot to take into account of Tsiolkas’s ability to incredibly layer stories.

Barracuda started off tame, full of angst but tame compared to The Slap but soon I was in unfamiliar territory. Unflinching, controversial and not afraid to tread into the dark side; the kind of book that is uncomfortable to read but enjoyable to finish.  The thing I love about Christos Tsiolkas, apart from the dark and brutal approach, is the profound and thought provoking story telling. He is the master of his craft.

This novel like The Slap is a great look at modern Australian life, but this one isn’t looking at parenting but instead the teenage years. Barracuda’s main focus is not about winning or chasing your dreams but for me it is all about alienation. When I was a teenager I was uprooted from all my friends in Sydney and moved to a small country town in north Queensland, where I had no friends and this novel made me relive that feeling of alienation (which I’ve never forgiven my parents for).

Tsiolkas doesn’t stop there, he likes to add layers upon layers and you spend a lot of time after reading this book just thinking about it. This for me is a sign of a great novel and I love how he dealt with alienation so effectively and then managed to look at struggles with sexual identity as well. I feel like Christos Tsiolkas is not afraid to put more and more problems for one character to deal with and it feels so real, the angst of an Australian teenager growing up in the 90’s was done to perfection.

I will admit while I loved this book, it was uncomfortable and sometimes poking at old wounds but the novel was almost a masterpiece. I did feel like it was a little long and dragged on a little at times but overall I was very pleased. Christos Tsiolkas is fast becoming my favourite Australian author and I really want to  read some of his other books; maybe not The Jesus Man but Loaded sounds really good.