The fact is, the whole of Australia despises my father more than any other man, just as they adore my uncle more than any other man. I might as well set the story straight about both of them . . .
Heroes or Criminals? Crackpots or Visionaries? Families or Enemies?
. . . Anyway, you know how it is. Every family has a story like this one.
Most of his life, Jasper Dean couldnt decide whether to pity, hate, love, or murder his certifiably paranoid father, Martin, a man who overanalyzed anything and everything and imparted his self-garnered wisdom to his only son. But now that Martin is dead, Jasper can fully reflect on the crackpot who raised him in intellectual captivity, and what he realizes is that, for all its lunacy, theirs was a grand adventure.
As he recollects the events that led to his fathers demise, Jasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveriesabout his infamous outlaw uncle Terry, his mysteriously absent European mother, and Martins constant losing battle to make a lasting mark on the world he so disdains. Its a story that takes them from the Australian bush to the cafes of bohemian Paris, from the Thai jungle to strip clubs, asylums, labyrinths, and criminal lairs, and from the highs of first love to the lows of failed ambition. The result is a rollicking rollercoaster ride from obscurity to infamy, and the moving, memorable story of a father and son whose spiritual symmetry transcends all their many shortcomings.
A Fraction of the Whole is an uproarious indictment of the modern world and its mores and the epic debut of the blisteringly funny and talented Steve Toltz.
The result is a ragged and loping tale, captivating even in its imperfections. So what if characters are forever "groaning" or "screaming" or "shrieking" at one another, never just "saying" or "replying." Toltz's over-exuberant writing style is worth it for his nonstop comedy and his unruly metaphors .... (Reviewed by Amy Reading).
Esquire - Tom Chiarella
This book moves; it bucks and rocks in a world that feels more than a hemisphere away, a world where the crispy black shadow of 9/11 does not inform every word from the mouths of geniuses and the evolution of one man, let alone a planet. All 544 pages are so comically dark and inviting that you have no choice but to step forward into its icy wake.
Los Angeles Times - Richard Rayner
Toltz is a superb, disturbing phrasemaker -- "Sex: the match that sets off human fireworks. In our loveless palace we've built a child," notes Martin in his diary. But this long novel, which lives or dies in the brilliance of its writing, has, too, a subtle, compelling structure. The plot is, to say the least, eventful, and while some twists seemed predictable, I loved the wild ride. A Fraction of the Whole soars like a rocket.
A bloated first novel from Australia...One thing after another in a novel that wallows in excess.
[A] sprawling, entertaining, decidedly quirky, and at times laugh-out-loud-funny romp.
Starred Review. This hilarious, sneaky smart first novel is as big and rangy as Australia . . . Toltz salts it all with uproarious ruminations on freedom, the soul, love, death, and the meaning of life. This is one rampaging and irresistible debut.
Starred Review. [A] sprawling, dizzying debut from a quirky, assured Australian writer.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Vera Very smart and funny This book is going on my top ten books of all time. And I have read a lot.
This book is intellectually captivating, a very smart kind of funny, and surprising without being predictable. It truly is a wild and crazy read.
A one point in the... Read More
Steve Toltz the man is as laconic as his character Martin Dean is loquacious.
The author bio on the book jacket simply reads: "Steve Toltz resides in Sydney,
Australia. A Fraction of the Whole is his first novel." This paucity of
information is quite rare for a debut novelist in our personality-obsessed
Digging a little deeper, I found this extended bio on the publisher's website:
"Steve Toltz was born in Sydney and has lived in Montreal, Vancouver, New York,
Barcelona, and Paris, working as a cameraman, telemarketer, security guard,
private investigator, English teacher, and screenwriter. A Fraction of the
Whole is his first novel."
Still not very illuminating, though, so it was time to investigate the private
investigator. After some clever sleuthingokay, some Googling, but I had to
click through quite a few pages of search results to get anything juicyI found
Toltz reminiscing about his time in
New York, about "the café where I'd
worked for two dollars an hour and where I'd...
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