Meet the Deans
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.
You never hear about a sportsman losing his sense of smell in a tragic accident, and for good reason; in order for the universe to teach excruciating lessons that we are unable to apply in later life, the sportsman must lose his legs, the philosopher his mind, the painter his eyes, the musician his ears, the chef his tongue. My lesson? I have lost my freedom, and found myself in this strange prison, where the trickiest adjustment, other than getting used to not having anything in my pockets and being treated like a dog that pissed in a sacred temple, is the boredom. I can handle the enthusiastic brutality of the guards, the wasted erections, even the suffocating heat. (Apparently airconditioning offends societys notion of punishmentas if just by being a little cool we are getting away with murder.) But what can I do here to kill time? Fall in love? Theres a female guard whose stare of indifference is alluring, but Ive never been good at chasing women...
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).
Full Review (999 words).
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 ...
If you liked A Fraction of the Whole, try these:
As a teenager, Sam Pulsifer's accidentally torches an American landmark, and killed two people in the blaze. After ten years in prison, he thinks he has put his past behind him - but when the homes of Robert Frost, Edith Wharton, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and even a replica of Henry David Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond, go up in ...
A darkly hilarious coming-of-age novel and a richly plotted suspense tale told through the distinctive voice of its heroine, Blue van Meer.
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The Angel of Losses
"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist
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