I was really surprised how much I enjoyed this recent 4 part ABC series based on Christos Tsiolkas's book of the same name. Stories about competitive swimming, or any sport actually, aren't usually my thing, and so I'd avoided the book when I probably should have trusted Christos more, he's an excellent story teller and an astute observer of society and character. I've only read one of Christos' books previously- probably his most famous book, The Slap, (read my review). I didn't manage to get through watching the miniseries of that one though, my interest petered out, and I just stopped.
Not so with Barracuda- it is fabulous viewing. I was literally on the edge of my seat at times. It has it all really. Class, family, teenage emotions, sport, competition. Barracuda is the story of Danny Kelly, a young boy from a working class family in Northern Melbourne. Danny is plucked from obscurity and the Coburg Pool by the swimming coach at an exclusive private school, and his life is changed forever.
Set in the 1990s in the hey day of Kieren Perkins and Daniel Kowalski (even I know who they are), it was fun watching people use CDs and non cordless phones. But it's the story that is the real star here. It's gripping and full of emotion.
My library has an e-audiobook of Barracuda available, and if I can ever work out how to use that service I think I'd like to listen to it now. Wow, it's 30 hours! Well 29h 59m, perhaps I'm slightly exaggerating. And somehow an e-audiobook can be "on loan" and not available until a certain date. Curiouser and curiouser.
I enjoyed this fascinating RN interview with Christos Tsiolkas about Barracuda. Christos tells us that after the huge success of The Slap that he thought a lot about success and failure, and how success in sports is quantifiable, whereas success in the arts may not be readily quantifiable. He thought that Barracuda was about "how to be a good man", and forgiveness. Which is interesting, I didn't quite get that from the TV series, but then a 4 hour miniseries is never going to cover as much as a book where the audio version extends to 30 hours. I think I'm going to have to listen.