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Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas

August 22, 2015

L 2I wonder how much of this is autobiographical, give that it’s his first novel.

Were we all as judgemental at that age?

I don’t understand all the drug-taking. Or why he hates himself and everybody else. Though it gradually dawned on me that this cry of despair is similar to the book of Ecclesiastes, whose writer sees the whole of life as ‘vanity and a chasing after wind..’

Whereas The Slap was a considered, panoramic look at Melbourne society, shifting subtly and successfully between eight different viewpoints, Loaded is a high-octane, drug- and sex-fuelled romp through 24 hours in the life of Ari, a 19-year-old Greek-Australian gay man living on the margins of society.

L3Quotations:

 The aching longing to be somewhere else, out of this city, out of this country, out of this body and out of this life.

Every street around here looks like every other street, every stranger you meet walking along looks like the same stranger you passed blocks ago… East, west, south, north, the city of Melbourne blurs into itself

In the East, in the new world of suburbia there is no dialogue, no conversation, no places to go out: for there is no need, there is television.

the greying men in their ugly business shirts, shuffle paper around all day, have guilty sex in toilets or at the brothels on the way to the station, and return home every night to drop dead in front of the television. Television rules. School, work, shopping, sex, are distractions to the central activity of the Eastern suburbs: flicking the channels on the remote control.

Joe’s mother went into hospital in our third year in high school. The woman flipped out, went crazy, took her Bible in one hand, an egg beater in the other, and roamed the streets of Burnley screaming that the Antichrist was coming. The news rushed through the school, there were whispers and jokes made in the locker rooms, in the kafenio, across the counters of the milk bars. My mother told me, and I listened wide-eyed, that the priest from the Burnley Street church tried to take her by the hand and she started pounding him with the Bible. My mother crossed herself as she told me.

In the school yard the story became embellished with adolescent lewdness. She had tried to stick the holy book in her vagina, had tried to proposition the priest, the priest accepted, they fucked on the altar. The simple story was that the woman had gone crazy. The embellishments were nursery horror stories to frighten the children and to keep the presence of insanity away. Joe’s mother was normal, that was what scared everyone. An-eight-hours-a-day-factory-worker-with-two-normal-kids-and-a-fat-hard-worlcing-wog-husband. The woman was so normal, a standard Greek wife.

LThat day I began to feel alone in this world. I walked past Agia Triada, the Greek church in which I had been baptised in the blood of the holy trinity and I opened the iron door and walked in. I lit a candle and crossed myself, looking for God. No one answered. Of course. I looked at the icon of the Madonna, the picture in a gold frame, and looked past her mysterious smile, noticed the cracks in the purple of her robes, noticed the lipstick marks on the glass. The Madonna was mad. She too must have been beautiful when she roamed the streets of some middle-eastern village claiming that God had deposited his sperm in her belly. I remember thinking this thought, thinking that God would strike me now, that the chandelier hanging from the church ceiling would fall on my head. Nothing stirred in the church. I touched the icon, left the building and outside spat on the church steps. I turned, gathered my fingers into a fist and smashed hard against the iron doors.

“Pol Pot was right to destroy, he was wrong not to work it out that you go all the way. You don’t kill one class, one religion, one party. You kill everyone because we are all diseased, there is no way out of this shithole planet.”

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.

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