Barracuda

Barracuda

A Novel

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
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Raised by a hairdresser single mom in a tiny Melbourne flat, Danny is elevated to an elite world by his Olympics-level swimming talent and must consider returning home twenty years later when a family member reaches out for help.
Publisher: London : Hogarth, 2014
Edition: First United States edition
ISBN: 9780804138420
0804138427
Branch Call Number: Fiction Tsiolkas
Characteristics: 431 pages ; 25 cm

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r
roystreet
Mar 07, 2017

Gave up about 2/5 of the way; partly because Tsiolkas' language is so flat and repetitive, but mainly because these people just didn't have the depth or complexity to interest me.

The author lays down his markers early on - Cobain, in particular, should set off alarm bells - but takes s- o - o - o long to get his story moving. . . .

n
nayoh
Jul 05, 2016

I found it hard to get into but overall liked it. The main character was, at times, extremely unlikeable which made it hard to root for him.

thohneke Apr 08, 2015

First, I want to say that the brief description of the book is incorrect. Dan is not raised by a single mother. This father is alive even at the end of the book, and that detail is important in this book. Dan does leave Australia for a time, but it is not 20 years, and the reason for his return is his desire to be home (or perhaps rather his desire to no longer be in a place that he knows is not his home).

This book provides a inside view of another person's life, even the deep, dark inside that we may not want to acknowledge/that we don't want others to see. Readers who were school and college age in the mid-1990s may relate to the chapter that includes character reactions to Kurt Cobain's death. Competitive swimmers may relate to and enjoy the descriptions of his races.

The book touches on big issues: classism and priviledge; racism (minimal discussion of this topic); understanding love, the desire to be loved, feeling loved (the last chapter is beautiful in this regard); wanting to do something with/make something of your life; being "good enough," living up to expectations; feeling self pride and making your family proud (there may be some Freudian elements within that); dealing with failure (or perceived failure) and recovering from it; personal insecurities; growing up and sexual curiosity; what it means to "start over;" wanting to do right by your family; making up for shortcomings of the past; what it means to be grown up, an adult; wondering if you are a good (v. bad) person.

Anger and dealing with it (or not dealing with it in a good way) is also an important theme in this book. The book is told from a male point of view, and it illustrates the way men deal with things (like the way Dan and his father wordlessly "make up" after a fight).
I recommend the because it creates the opportunity to reflect on and discuss many different issues.

madison382 Apr 05, 2015

This is a heart breaking story (from the author of the Slap) about a young Olympic hopeful, who did not qualify for the heat he tried out for in the Olympics and the devasting effect it took on his life. The book started out slow, but stay with it, as it goes back and forth in different stages of the young man's life.

s
Sansha
Apr 29, 2014

Wow, what a roller-coaster of emotions. I really enjoyed this story, the journey of Daniel Kelly champion school boy swimmer who has high hopes of representing Australia. But what does it take to be a champion, a champion human being? I loved the story being set in Melbourne and that so many familiar places are part of the Dan's life.

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r
roystreet
Mar 06, 2017

"I've always admired the working class, my dear, always. Like us, you know exactly who you are. But look at them." [Mrs Taylor] waved a hand dismissively at the others at the table. "They have no idea how abysmal they are. Lord, how I detest the middle class."

Danny looked into her bright shining eyes and knew he had just been given a gift, but he didn't know how to unwrap it, could not figure out how to accept it.

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