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Barracuda - Christos Tsiolkas

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Published: 1st November 2013
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Published: 1st November 2013
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Tender and brutal and blazingly brilliant, the new novel from the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap takes an unflinching look at modern Australia - at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families - and asks what it means to be a good person and what it takes to become one.

He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.

His whole life, Danny Kelly's only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he's ever done-every thought, every dream, every action-takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.

His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny's win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys-he's Barracuda, he's the psycho, he's everything they want to be but don't have the guts to get there. He's going to show them all.

He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.

Should we teach our children to win, or should we teach them to live? How do we make and remake our lives? Can we atone for our past? Can we overcome shame? And what does it mean to be a good person?

A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families. It is about class and sport and politics and migration and education. It contains everything a person is: family and friendship and love and work, the identities we inhabit and discard, the means by which we fill the holes at our centre. Barracuda is brutal, tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world.

Read John Purcell's Review

This is a difficult book to write about. It has a personality rather than a plot. It is built upon emotion rather than reason. It is all shouts and whispers and nothing in between.

As a boy Danny Kelly wants only one thing - to be the greatest swimmer of all time. And his dream isn't farfetched. His coach believes he can do it. His mother is behind him, waking early and driving him to the pool. And his peers think he can do it, though they resent him for his talent.

Every waking moment of Danny Kelly's life is lived in pursuit of that single goal - which makes him a bit of a shit.

Christos Tsiolkas doesn't deliver Danny's story in sequence. Because Danny's life isn't linear. There is one central event, one devastating moment in Danny's life and all other moments are either before or after it. He has no past, present, or future. Everything races towards and circles back to that event. If we want to understand Danny we need to understand this.

Barracuda questions our obsession with winning and winners. It examines failure, shame and regret. It asks whether we can ever be truly forgiven for our sins. And it does so in naked fearless prose. This is not an uplifting book, but unlike Eyrie, there is love and there is hope. And it suggests we are only as isolated from others as we allow ourselves to be.

About the Author

Christos Tsiolkas is the author of four novels: Loaded, which was made into the feature film Head-On, The Jesus Man and Dead Europe, which won the 2006 Age Fiction Prize and the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award. He won Overall Best Book in the Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2009, was shortlisted for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award, longlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize and won the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal for his novel, The Slap, which was also announced as the 2009 Australian Booksellers Association and Australian Book Industry Awards Books of the Year. He is also a playwright, essayist and screen writer. He lives in Melbourne.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
Barracuda
 
3.0

(based on 10 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (3)

50%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Well written (4)
  • Engaging characters (3)
  • Page-turner (3)

Cons

  • Disappointing (5)

Best Uses

      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Bookworm (6), Everyday reader (4)

    Most Liked Positive Review

     

    a 'must read' Australian story

    It is the measure of a book when the worst thing about it is that you don't like the main character. Danny is a brat. You will want to nurture him and teach him...Read complete review

    It is the measure of a book when the worst thing about it is that you don't like the main character. Danny is a brat. You will want to nurture him and teach him some things about life. In other words, you will read about your own shortcomings and frame his redemption in your own head. This is an important book.

    VS

    Most Liked Negative Review

     

    Barracuda, into the recycling bin

    This could have been a good story but it was ruined by the bad language, obsession with sexuality and graphic details. I persevered until halfway through the book but, even though I wanted...Read complete review

    This could have been a good story but it was ruined by the bad language, obsession with sexuality and graphic details. I persevered until halfway through the book but, even though I wanted to know who he had killed and under what circumstances, I couldn't keep ploughing my way through it.
    It is such a shame that an author seems to not have the confidence to tell a story without "dressing it up" with obscenity. Not only was the potential of this story lost but I certainly won't be looking for any more novels by this author.

    Reviewed by 10 customers

    Sort by

    Displaying reviews 1-10

    Back to top

     
    4.0

    Intriguing, wanted to know more.

    By KK Reader

    from Sandy Point, Vic, AU

    About Me Bookworm

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Easy To Read
    • Page-Turner

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Gift
      • Travel Reading

      Comments about Barracuda:

      Great selection of books.

      Comment on this review

       
      5.0

      Great author, never disappoints!

      By Vanna

      from Miandetta

      About Me Bookworm

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Engaging characters
      • Page-Turner
      • Well Written

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about Barracuda:

          I have never been let down by Christos Tsiolkas, (started reading him before the tv series of The Slap). His style is very different, which is great.

          Comment on this review

           
          4.0

          Don't get influenced by the publicity

          By Designer Liza

          from Perth

          About Me Bookworm

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Informative
          • Page-Turner
          • Well Written

          Cons

            Best Uses

              Comments about Barracuda:

              This book was a constant companion while I was reading it. An excellent C'mas present to myself. Now that I've finished it, I can read others. Beforehand, other books didn't get a look-in.

              Comment on this review

               
              1.0

              Barracuda, into the recycling bin

              By Robyn

              from Mittagong, NSW

              About Me Bookworm

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • None

              Cons

              • Disappointing
              • Graphic Descriptions
              • Unnecessary Bad Language

              Best Uses

              • Expensive Paper Recycling

              Comments about Barracuda:

              This could have been a good story but it was ruined by the bad language, obsession with sexuality and graphic details. I persevered until halfway through the book but, even though I wanted to know who he had killed and under what circumstances, I couldn't keep ploughing my way through it.
              It is such a shame that an author seems to not have the confidence to tell a story without "dressing it up" with obscenity. Not only was the potential of this story lost but I certainly won't be looking for any more novels by this author.

              Comment on this review

               
              4.0

              Definitely Worth Reading!

              By Skyte

              from Newcastle NSW

              About Me Bookworm

              Pros

              • Interesting Characters
              • Original
              • Thought provoking
              • Well Written

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about Barracuda:

                  This book tackles the topic of "shame" in a deep and thought provoking way. I really loved reading Barracuda and was surprised to see that people are polarised about this book. I thought Danny was a refreshingly unique character and loved Christo Tsiolkas' writing style. I read this a few weeks ago now and I am still thinking about it. Give it a go!

                  Comment on this review

                  (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  2.0

                  Very dissappointing

                  By Liz C

                  from Sydney

                  About Me Everyday Reader

                  Pros

                    Cons

                    • Disappointing

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about Barracuda:

                      I really disliked Danny - there was hope he would show some depth, but no. The book was long and tiring - I struggled to finish it. Shame that I didn't spend my precious time reading something better.

                      Comment on this review

                       
                      5.0

                      a 'must read' Australian story

                      By p4peter

                      from Sydney

                      About Me Bookworm

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Deserves Multiple Readings
                      • Engaging characters
                      • Well Written

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Gift
                        • Older Readers
                        • Special Needs
                        • Travel Reading
                        • Younger Readers

                        Comments about Barracuda:

                        It is the measure of a book when the worst thing about it is that you don't like the main character. Danny is a brat. You will want to nurture him and teach him some things about life. In other words, you will read about your own shortcomings and frame his redemption in your own head. This is an important book.

                        Comment on this review

                        (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        1.0

                        Don't waste your time or money.

                        By Jp

                        from Sydney

                        About Me Everyday Reader

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                          Cons

                          • Disappointing

                          Best Uses

                          • As a door stop

                          Comments about Barracuda:

                          A repetative story line. Dull story. Poor character development. Overuse of similes.

                          Comment on this review

                           
                          3.0

                          Good start, disappointing finish

                          By Rita the reader

                          from Adelaide

                          About Me Everyday Reader

                          Verified Buyer

                          Pros

                          • Engaging characters

                          Cons

                          • Disappointing
                          • Not What I Expected

                          Best Uses

                          • Young Adult - Adult

                          Comments about Barracuda:

                          I Loved "the Slap" by the same author. The characters and setting was easy to relate to being Australian. This book started off promising, enjoyed the first half but the last half dragged on and was very repetitive. Sadly, wouldn't recommend it.

                          Comment on this review

                          (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          1.0

                          A difficult book to like

                          By simmo76

                          from Sydney, AU

                          About Me Everyday Reader

                          Pros

                            Cons

                            • Difficult To Follow
                            • Disappointing

                            Best Uses

                              Comments about Barracuda:

                              I have really enjoyed all of the authors previous novels but I can honestly say Barracuda was a struggle to finish. The authors descriptions of scenery, emotions and situations were way too detailed (to fill pages??). I could not warm to any of the characters at all. 500+ pages of my life that I will never get back!

                              Comment on this review

                              Displaying reviews 1-10

                              Back to top

                              Barracuda is a difficult book to write about. It has a personality rather than a plot. It is built upon emotion rather than reason. It is all shouts and whispers and nothing in between.

                              As a boy Danny Kelly wants only one thing – to be the greatest swimmer of all time. And his dream isn’t farfetched. His coach believes he can do it. His mother is behind him, waking early and driving him to the pool. And his peers think he can do it, though they resent him for his talent.

                              Every waking moment of Danny Kelly’s life is lived in pursuit of that single goal – which makes him a bit of a shit.

                              Christos Tsiolkas doesn’t deliver Danny’s story in sequence. Because Danny’s life isn’t linear. There is one central event, one devastating moment in Danny’s life and all other moments are either before or after it. He has no past, present, or future. Everything races towards and circles back to that event. If we want to understand Danny we need to understand this.

                              Barracuda questions our obsession with winning and winners. It examines failure, shame and regret. It asks whether we can ever be truly forgiven for our sins. And it does so in naked fearless prose. This is not an uplifting book, but unlike Winton's Eyrie, there is love and there is hope. And it suggests we are only as isolated from others as we allow ourselves to be. Reviewed by John Purcell - Booktopia.

                              ISBN: 9781743317310
                              ISBN-10: 174331731X
                              Audience: General
                              Format: Paperback
                              Language: English
                              Number Of Pages: 528
                              Published: 1st November 2013
                              Publisher: Allen & Unwin
                              Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3  x 3.9
                              Weight (kg): 0.69