Families can detonate. Some families are torn apart forever by one small act, one solitary mistake. In my family it was a series of small explosions; consistent, passionate, pathetic. Cruel words, crude threats... We spurred each other on till we reached a crescendo of pain and we retired exhaused to our rooms, in tears or in fury.
Ari is nineteen, unemployed and a poofter who doesn't want to be gay. He is looking for something - anything - to take him away from his aimless existence in suburban Melbourne. He doesn't believe in anyone or anything, except the power of music. All he wants to do is dance, take drugs, have sex and change the world.
For Ari, all the orthodoxies of family, sex, politics and work have collapsed. Caught between the traditional Greek world of his parents and friends and the alluring, destructive world of clubs, chemicals and anonymous sex, all Ari can do is ease his pain in the only ways he knows how.
Written in stark, uncompromising prose, Loaded is a first novel of great passion and power.
Christos Tsiolkas is the author of nine 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, long listed for the 2010 Man Booker Prize and won the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal for The Slap, which was also announced as the 2009 Australian Booksellers Association and Australian Book Industry Awards Books of the Year. Barracuda is his fifth novel. Merciless Gods (2014) and Damascus (2019) followed. He is also a playwright, essayist and screen writer. He lives in Melbourne.
A friend of mine at work has been annoyed with me for not having read anything Tsiolkas, and since I don’t watch TV I haven’t seen ‘The Slap’ or ‘Barracuda’ – which she says I would particularly enjoy since it fits with some of the themes I research about schools. I probably ought to have seen the film that was made of this in 1998 – I knew Ana Kokkinos when I was growing up and I had meant to see the film at the time, but this was all when I had become totally disillusioned with film.
This reminded me of a punk version of ‘The Graduate’ or of ‘The Dangling Man’. This, like them, has that sense of ‘coming of age’ but of also being stuck between life stages. Although, no one asks Ari if he wants to get into plastics. The problem here is that it isn’t clear what his pathway to the future actually is. The alcohol and drugs he consumes in this 24 hour period would kill a horse. But the reader isn’t left with a sense of ‘liberation’ following all this excess, but rather of near total entrapment. The narrator tells us he feels the effect of the dope, or the acid, or the quick, or the brandy, or the whisky, or whatever else he is snorting, sniffing, sculling, injecting, swallowing – but the impact of all of this on him is so minimal it is hard to know why he even bothers.
And you can say much the same of the sex. This is Tsiolkas’s first novel – published when he was 30 – but the sex reads like something an 18-year-old might write. Every single person the narrator looks sideways at wants to fuck him senseless, and pretty well does. You know, it’s all a bit like that line from Howl “or purgatoried their torsos night after night / with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls”.
Actually, now I think of it, I could have written that line as my review to this book.
I can’t help giving a sociological reading to this. The narrator doesn’t want to be anything. He doesn’t want to be Greek (a wog), Australian (a skip), Gay (a faggot), an accountant, a university student. He does say at one point that he would like to go to Greece for a while, but what he would do there or why he might go isn’t made clear – and he probably doesn’t know either.
He certainly doesn’t want to do any of the things that would traditionally lead him to transition to ‘being an adult’, but it also isn’t clear he can continue being an adolescent either. There’s a sense all of this is about to change, that we are in the eye of a storm, but it isn’t clear how he is going to come out the other side. Like I said, he gets everything he wants in this book, everything comes to him almost unbidden. But he is left anything but sated. The man he loves has sex with him for the first time towards the end of the night – I can’t remember if this is the third or forth sexual adventure of the book and within 24 hours. I kept thinking, if I had that much alcohol I’d be dead for a week. But even just reading about the sex made me feel sore – I know the guy is meant to be 19…but all the same.
This inability to transition to becoming an adult is a condition of late capitalism and that makes this book different from The Graduate or The Dangling Man I mentioned earlier, and he captures that difference perfectly here. One of the things Bourdieu often says is that people who have no options often make a virtue of the only choice they end up having open to them. That is, rather than being upset that they only one choice available, they make themselves believe it is the only choice they would have made anyway. And that too could be a nice summary of this book. He doesn’t want to go to University – well, he couldn’t’ go even if he did want to, since he failed high school, he doesn’t want to be an accountant, which is also convenient since that’s not open to him either. Perhaps more interestingly he doesn’t want to be a Marxist – not least since that doesn’t look like it offers a path to the future either. He doesn’t want to be anything, but it isn’t clear he can be anything.
He doesn’t want to be Greek – but as an ‘Irish-Australian’ I can tell you that I don’t really feel ‘Irish’ and I certainly don’t feel ‘Australian’ either. I think an unspoken part of the migrant experience is that you end up not belonging anywhere. This is a book of nowhere lands. He doesn’t want to be a poof, he doesn’t want to have sex with effeminate men, he wants ‘real men’, but as he is discussing what that means it becomes clear that’s not really an option open to him either.
Mostly, the only time he feels okay, is when he is listening to music on his headphones. There are times when he is listening to music with others when he feels almost happy, but mostly, overwhelmingly, he is happy when he is isolated and excluded within the pleasure of the mix tape he plays on repeat play on his Walkman.
He is the atomised subject. Other people are mostly only useful for the drugs they can bring, or for the sex you have with them, and even that is mostly a race towards ejaculation.
This book is also a kind of ‘fuck you’ to the Greek community in Australia. I’ve just read on Wikipedia that the book was rejected by a publisher because they felt it was both racist and homophobic. And while lots of people probably smile smugly and knowingly over that (a book written by a Greek homosexual, at least, I assume he must be homosexual), the publishers reading isn’t as completely insane as you might think. There are lots of clichés being paraded here – and the difference between a cliché, a stereotype and a racist or sexist objectification is often more to do with intonation than characterisation. Goffman’s ‘minstrelisation’ comes to mind.
The novel is often powerful and rarely over-written. There are bits where he gets carried away with the form of his sentences and it all becomes a little too smart, but never quite smart-arsed. At least, I didn’t think so.
I want to end with something else that I thought about while reading this. During the week a friend of mine here posted a thing on Facebook that said, ‘The fact I don’t hate men shows sexuality isn’t a choice’. It made me smile. Lots of this book involves the narrator becoming aroused when looking at men, the bit that struck me was him seeing some guy sleeping with his t-shirt up a bit and exposing his belly. It made me think that I’ve never looked at a man and thought, ‘god, I wouldn’t mind having sex with him’. I certainly can’t say the same thing about women – and the ‘provocation’ hasn’t needed to involve a naked belly, either. The point being that so much of what we take as choice about our sexuality so rarely seems to be anything of the kind. I think this is a book people should read for that alone, in many ways – the unbidden nature of desire.
Τι φοβερό βιβλίο χριστέ μου, και τι γλώσσα! Εχει γραφτεί σχεδόν εδω και 20 χρόνια, και τώρα είναι πιο επίκαιρο απο τότε. Η μετανάστευση, το σέξ, ο ρατσισμός, είναι εδω μαζεμένα και σε προκαλούν να αναμετρηθείς μαζί τους. Αλλά κακά τα ψέματα:δεν είναι ενα βιβλίο για όλους, αλλά άμα σ`αρέσει η άγρια ομορφιά, μπορεί και να ναι,δεν ξέρω, ολα εξαρτώνται απο το στομάχι του καθενός.
Τα λέει όμως καλύτερα ο ήρωας:Μπορεί να μην έχω μέλλον, αλλα εχω αρχές.
This has a 3.35 rating because people either love it or loathe it, which evens out to average. It's not average. I read this book when it came out 20 years ago. It could have been yesterday. I couldn't say that about many books.
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.
I read it in just two-sittings last week, on the way to Perth and then back again. I read The Slap a few years ago and it’s a novel I still think about, and had been meaning to read more of his work, and my friends had raved about Loaded.
It is sharp and intense. It’s about a 19-year-old boy Ari who likes to have sex and take a lot of drugs, and it takes place over one night. The novel moves seamlessly through the various places he goes out to, to the various people he meets. It feels a little like a drug trip as you read it, but it’s never just drugs and sex and nothing under the surface.
As with many successful novels, I think Tsiolkas has managed to nail the voice, along with a kind of minimalism that is not too over the top. The casual language and pace make it easy to keep reading and finish in a short while. There is politics there. It alludes to a feeling of apathy and powerlessness that I think was a common mood of the 90s and it speaks a lot to me about the motivations for the kind of lifestyle Ari leads, without being patronising about it, perhaps because it also feels to me as if it might be semi-autobiographical. There are details that seem to match up.
I saw Tsiolkas speak at the Wheeler Centre a few weeks back, where I bought the book and got him to sign it. He did a reading from his forthcoming novel, Barracuda. Like someone like Tony Birch, he has a fascination for characters perhaps marginal, perhaps just those overlooked. I’m interested in that too as a writer. But I’ve only just discovered them recently, never the kinds of texts they gave to me in high-school, but then I wonder if I would’ve read them then.
A very well written depressing glimpse into 24 hours of the life of a Greek Teenager living in Australia.
A hectic read, you could almost smell the nightclubs, the parties the seedy locations that Ari visited as he makes his way through a busy day with drugs, sex, friends and music all playing a huge part!
Only just discovered this book! The movie Head On was a frenetic sensation back in the day, and was based on this first novel, Loaded. This novel is also passionate, angry, frustrated, stoned, and hallucinatory—perfect mood to take out on the dance floor.
The movie is very faithful to the book, but of course the book had a chance to be a bit more reflective.
“The constraints placed on me by my family can only be destroyed by a debasement that allows me to run along dark paths and silent alleyways forbidden to most of my clan and my peers. To be free, for me as a Greek, is to be a whore.”
A complex first person narrative on the anger of youth, the complicated attractions of traditional culture in an immigrant society, and the bonds of family that can feel like a prison.
Hmmm. Here's the thing: I've never been a fan of this style of writing, of this kind of content, of boys who just want to get high and fuck someone. Which is essentially all this book is about.
Yes, there is some of the coming of age stuff. Ari is nineteen and still not confident in his sexuality, fluxing between admitting that he's gay and fighting it. It's a classic case of being in the closet. And there's a bit of character development by the end, but not enough to leave me feeling like Ari's come a long way. Or any way at all.
The writing is very lucid. It's sharp, intense. Too much. Because of that, the side characters are more interesting. Johnny, who dresses in drag and calls himself Toula. Alex, who's in love with a Muslim boy. Peter, who escaped his family by moving in with his girlfriend, but then cheats. Ari gives you everything, since it's first person and he's very blunt. The other characters do not, and curiosity about them makes them the more interesting ones.
But I relate to Ari. Greek, gay, longing for an escape and just wanting to be himself, whoever that may be. Tsiolkas' portraits of Greek families are spot on. I don't relate to the other things, but the cultural stuff, definitely. There's almost a stigma among young ethnic people, who haven't quite accepted their culture, who haven't learnt the balancing act as they straddle the fence between Greek and Australian. They cannot be Greek, because they don't relate to the culture, don't care about the politics. But they aren't Australian because there is still some vestiges of Greek culture that grabs them.
Music is a big theme, and I think it's the thing that most shows Ari walking between the two worlds; he likes the Greek music as much as he likes more western music, whether it's rap or metal or dance. It's one of the ways that Ari connects with his Greekness. He enjoys the music, loses himself in the traditional dances, when it suits him. And does the same with other music.
So it's an interesting book. Very real, in its portrayal of life for a young Greek man living in Australia. Having said that, it is also the experience of a certain type of gay man. The attractive type, who fits the acceptable terms of queerness. Had Ari been less attractive, his experience of his sexuality would've been completely different. Because there is not much of a place in the queer community for the less attractive.
Overall, it's not a bad read. Very short, the kind of book you'll probably get through in a sitting or two. But it's also not lighthearted. It's quite raw at times. Rough, and hard to read. And it's totally understandable that people either love it or hate it. It's the kind of book that invites those two very different reactions, that feel that way about the same thing.
“We all have to sell ourselves. But you don’t have to get married, you don’t have to sell all of yourself. There is a small part of myself, deep inside of me, which I let no one touch. If I let it out, let someone have a look at it, brush their hands across that part of my soul, then they would want to have it, steal it, own it.”
Basically this book is an off handed “f*ck you” no matter who you are. Australian (f*ck you), Greek (f*ck you), African (f*ck you), American (f*ck you), Indian (f*ck you), Arabs (f*ck you), Vietnamese (f*ck you), rich, poor, upper class, lower class -f*ck you, successful, unsuccessful, married, unmarried, gay, straight- f*ck you, young, old, handsome, ugly, big or small- f*ck you. Whatever just… f*ck you.
Following an angsty nineteen years old Ari, gay and unemployed for 24 hours as he navigate through the world of Melbourne streets, clubs, drugs and anonymous sex to distract himself from him own aimless existence, to find something -anything- to cling to until another day pass by. It explores the existential crisis of an angry teenager, the rapid change in socio-political geography and the strains of living between two different cultures.
This book starts with a bang; written in present tense, the voice so distinguished it immediately grabs your attention (it is as distinct as the voice of middle-sister in Anna Burns’ astounding novel Milkman). The narrator is angry and rebellious and highly unlikable but one can understand him as the novel progresses, his source of all his agitations, his hatred for the world he inhabits and the general boredom of a restless mind. The writing is as it should be- concise and very much in line with the narrator’s thought process. It jabs at everything and everyone but never tries to solicit sympathy or assurance. From the very beginning you feel this rush that makes you gobble each word, each sentence as if you are running out of time and you need to take as much as you can of this book. Loaded is also filled with sex, hot and passionate and sensual and it is all so very good.
Just read it, please. It’s dark and sexy and makes you quite high just reading it. I’m desperate to read everything by Christos Tsiolkas.
Loaded was the debut novel of Christos Tsiolkas. It is an ambitious novel (Novella? It’s quite short) that touches on being the child of immigrants, sexuality, family, and connecting with other people. It reminded me Catcher in the Rye (with the caveat that it has been a long time since I last read Catcher). Like Holden Caulfield, Ari has failed out of school (Holden was kicked out), doesn’t have a job, and has no plans to get one. He is pissed off at the world and thinks most people are cowards who have blindly and stupidly bought into the job, mortgage, American capitalism dream or nightmare, depending on one’s perspective. (I know this takes place in Australia and was written by an Australian author but America is referenced several times.) Ari doesn’t want that life but he doesn’t yet have the strength to break away from it or know what kind of life he does want. In the meantime, he spends his time drinking, drugging, and having sex with friends and strangers most of whom are men. He isn’t about to tell his parents about that last part. Ari is the son of Greek immigrants and they are angry enough about his lack of schooling, joblessness, partying, and general rejection of their life.
I liked this. It was short and I wanted more, wanted there to be some sort of resolution. Then again, the lack of a definitive resolution is probably a more truthful ending.
Astounding, shocking, engaging and totally wonderful. Tsiolkas thrusts us into a drug fuelled, sex driven 24 hours. Ari is driven by shame, completely self absorbed and can't reconcile who he is and who he should be.
Don't read this if you have any issues about graphic descriptions of gay sex or self gratification.
Despite not having any connection with this lifestyle or world, I thought this was incredibly crafted, heart-wrenching, "in your face", grungy and thoroughly worthwhile.
There's more than one 'underbelly' going on in Melbourne!
This is the one Tsiolkas book I actually like, because the nihilistic world-sucks I hate everyone actually feels perfect for the viewpoint of a young gay man set on self-destruction because he thinks the world is against him. Ari is not a likable character, but he's definitely a relatable one. We've all been there.
Perhaps I should've started my journey of reading Tsiolkas with this book. Being his first book, there is a lot of raw emotion that courses through it - something that gets more refined and nuanced in his later works. Having read these later works, I did miss some of the refinement.
This book centers around the almost teenage angst that is felt by the protagonist Ari - this character feels like a gayer, Australian version of Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. I read that one as a teen and could understand the angst and the rebellion better at the time. Here I sometimes wanted to ask Ari to just grow up. Not everything in the world is about you, Ari, okay.
Having said that, the angst itself is a lot more nuanced here. There is the feeling of impostor syndrome that he has being a "wog" or a second generation immigrant who cannot connect with the culture he was raised with or the one he sees around in the country he now calls home. Ari also suffers from a huge dose of internalized homophobia and this is explored and brought about very beautifully. There is lot of explosive sexual situations that Ari falls into and all of these are very powerful. I liked the struggle that he has when going through with every one of these and the after-effects of these as well.
For good measure, there is some generational politics thrown in as well. This isn't as explored as the other two but if definitely contributes towards making Ari the person he is. Once again, I felt like this was a theme that is better explored in his other works. This book builds this central character of Ari very well and shows his inner workings without holding back at all. I just felt like it didn't go anywhere with it. We understand that empathize with Ari but that's about it.
A good short read that perhaps paves the way for greater works from Tsiolkas.
Έψαχνα πολύ καιρό να βρω το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο και δε μετάνιωσα λεπτό από τον χρόνο που δαπάνησα για να το βρω.
Ο λόγος; Διαβάζοντάς το καταλαβαίνεις ότι ο συγγραφέας διαθέτει πηγαίο ταλέντο που πηγάζει από την ίδια του την ιστορία. Όντας ο ίδιος παιδί μεταναστών, ομοφυλόφιλος και με ανήσυχη εφηβική ζωή μπορεί καλύτερα από τον καθένα να μεταδώσει τους φόβους και ενδεχομένως την απελπισία του νεαρού ήρωα του βιβλίου.
Το πρώτο βιβλίο του Χ.Τσιόλκα έγινε ταινία από μια Αυστραλίδα σκηνοθέτιδα και ευτυχώς για εμάς, μεταφράστηκε στα ελληνικά ώστε να γνωρίσουμε μια ωμή & σύγχρονη λογοτεχνική παρουσία.
Short, sharp and nihilistic. The book flicks between the suburbs of Melbourne, seething with the energy of first-generation migrants trying to escape the conservative constraints of their own community. If you're familiar with the likes of Sydney Road or High Street, there's much to identify with here.
I don't know why I love nihilistic fiction. It's the same thing every time, broken pretty people do lots of drugs and have meaningless empty sex for two hundred odd pages. Yet for some reason, I always go back for more.
When I was in second-year uni in 1997, our copywriting lecturer Jackie insisted we all read this book. She said it would blow our minds. It was her own paperback copy that we circulated among ourselves, passing it on to the next person after we were done with it. I don't remember us discussing it much, but I really looked up to Jackie and respected her judgment.
I remember thinking that this was simultaneously a world I knew and inhabited, and one that was strange and alien. The geography was familiar, the music, the venues, the Greek culture… but the drugs and nihilism and self-loathing and anonymous gay sex were new and intimidating. (NB: I am so easy to intimidate. I am such a little pussycat.) It was a visceral, immersive read – I think it was the first 'grunge'-style novel I'd read, although I'd seen the movie Trainspotting and after this I got into the works of Irvine Welsh and had a kind of fascination for 'rave scene' stories such as Go and Human Traffic. However, I never read Fiona McGregor's Chemical Palace, which has been claimed as a counterpart to Loaded.
I'm disappointed that Goodreads doesn't have the edition I read, which had a blurry blue-toned cover. I recently found the same one in a second-hand bookshop and really enjoyed re-reading it, although it's much more of a period piece now. It's very '90s'. I found it less nihilistic on re-reading. I interpreted Ari not as permanently lost and alienated, but as temporarily confused and aimless in a way that many young people are. I felt more certain that things would come good for him. Indeed, he makes a cameo appearance in The Slap as Hector's workmate in the public service.
I had to study this book in my first year of university in an "Australian Literature" course. then in between first and second year i moved cities and, of course, universities. At my second uni i had to study this book again, in an "experimental fiction" course (the content being the experiment).
One thing i found interesting are the two different readings of the text i experienced. the first uni focused on the exorbitant amounts of homosexual sex and illicit drug use largely painting it as a book written to shock the establishment, with a minor note on it being an example of immigrant literature. the second uni noted that possibility, before disregarding it and painting it as a political book, with it's major theme being the lack of identity workers suffer in a post "working class" world. or something like that.
So, what can I say about this book? first off, Christos Tsiolkas can write, really well. he's probably the best australian writer i've had the pleasure of reading, even though his controversial subject matter and nationality may prevent him from ever gaining a wide audience. The subject matter is, of course, quite interesting, to put it mildly. to say that the argument of whether it is pornography or not has come up in every discussion i've had concerning this book is an understatement. do i think it's pornographic? yes, i do. do i think that lessens its importance as a piece of literature? not necessarily, no.
Wow, ovo je bila surova i - na trenutke - šokantna vožnja. Loaded daje uvid u klupsku, queer scenu, nabijenu drogom i seksom. Devetnaestogodišnji protagonist Ari (koji kod čitatelja budi paletu osjećaja!) za sebe kaže: "I like music. I like film. I'm going to have sex, listen to music and watch film for the rest of my life. I am here, living my life. I'm not going to fall in love. I'm not going to change a thing, no one will remember me when I'm dead. My epitaph: he slept, he ate, he fucked, he pissed, he shat. He ran to escape history. That's his story." Loaded vrvi glazbenim/filmskim referencama, što je jako pohvalno! Naposljetku, djelo je podijeljeno u četiri dijela (East, North, South, West) od kojih svaki ima svoj soundtrack... (Sister Sledge, John Lennon, Pet Shop Boys, Nirvana). Moja zamjerka je ta što su dijalozi (kojih - uzgred rečeno - ima malo!) nekako, hm, neuredni? Sadržajno su koliko - toliko okayish, ali roman kao da nije prošao kroz konačni proces obrade. Opet, s druge strane, možda je to učinjeno i s namjerom. Who knows... Za kraj, još jedan Arijev (gorkoslatki?) quote: "The world on the screen is much more attractive than the world I move around in."
While Tsiolkas is nowadays more known for ‘The Slap’, this, his debut novel, adds further evidence to his stature as a leading writer of contemporary Australian fiction. ‘The Slap’ is a very ambitious and sprawling Australian novel – almost our own ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’. By contrast Loaded is focused and concise, adhering to the age old advice of write what you know. In 1995 Tsiolkas was a Greek Poofter growing up in Melbourne and that’s exactly what we get here. In comfortable surroundings the cutting observations of multicultural Australia are delivered with confidence and clarity. Amid lashings of party drugs and gay sex main character Ari is a likeable compass navigating us through Melbourne North, South, East & West.
As much as this book made me uncomfortable with the explicit sex scenes, the random sex, the hardcore drug use, the use of swear words, I will say that it was a good book. Very angsty and very angry. I felt that Ari was so mad at the world, at his upbringing, at his home that the only way he could survive was by having sex with strangers (men and women) using drugs and drinking excessively to escape the 'normalcy' of his Greek/Australian life. The style of writing was different and took me a while to realise who was speaking and when but once you get into it it's rather easy. I would not recommend this book to anyone under 18 due to the explicit nature, I also wouldn't recommend to anyone who (like me) is uncomfortable with explicit drug use.
Having already read a fair bit of Tsolkias, this book didn't shock me at all in terms of all the gay sex and drug use. However it was an enjoyable read, like his other works. His use of language is always excellent and he is able to depict despair in his characters. The main character has no idea of his identity, but he knows he doesnt want to work 9-5 and living in the suburbs (ironic since Tsolkias himself grew up in an affluent eastern suburb). This book is certainly anti establishment.
Tsiolkas really nails Melbourne in a way that I'm not sure any other author can really do. Loaded is great - it depicts Melbourne and the aimless, pointless existence that everyone leads - despite their racial, cultural or sexual diversity. Ari is a bit like a gay Holden Caulfield, philosophically musing throughout the book about pointlessness, blandness, the daily monotony of life that leads to nothing, and why sex, drugs and unemployment make a reasonable alternative.
Christos Tsiolkas' first novel is at times dark, funny, graphic and kinda sad. I can definitely see elements of the writer he later became, but it's really interesting seeing this really brutally honest take on the life of a young sexually confused Greek guy in mid nineties Melbourne.
It's the second book of his I've read and it certainly makes me want to read more of his work.
I read this book in one day. It is easy to read because the story is well constructed throughout the situations faced by the main character. I loved how the city of Melbourne wasn't only a place where the story was set but a character itself. It is a great first work from Christos Tsiolkas, it shows the first stages of the brilliance that he later showed us in novels like The Slap or Barracuda