Beyond the Book: Background information when reading A Fraction of the Whole

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Fraction of the Whole

by Steve Toltz

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2008, 544 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2008, 576 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

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 consumer culture.

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 sleuthing—okay, some Googling, but I had to click through quite a few pages of search results to get anything juicy—I 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 once tried to clean a junkie's blood off the toilet seat with a broom" or "the place where I lived with a songwriter who charged me extra for using his toaster."

These evocative details only left me wanting more intel on Toltz's life, on what led him to write such a kaleidoscopic novel. So back I went to Google, only to find this gnomic interview. When asked how the novel relates to his own life, he replied, "People always say write what you know, but I've always found that to be terrible advice. It's quite limiting, what you know." When asked if he is as sourly pessimistic as his characters, he answered, "I guess that depends upon what day you ask, and whether it's the morning or afternoon. Or whether I'm feeling pessimistic or optimistic in that moment, and in which way. It's impossible; it's a shifting thing ... my characters' views are an exaggeration of what I'm thinking, and sometimes what I'm not thinking. Often they're views in which I believe, and while believing it, I also believe that the opposite is equally true. So I can't really pin it down."

A fraction of the whole, indeed.

This article was originally published in March 2008, and has been updated for the October 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Goodbye Days
    Goodbye Days
    by Jeff Zentner
    Guilt can be a heavy burden for anyone to manage, but it's especially difficult for teenagers. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    by Hannah Tinti
    Hannah Tinti follows her spectacular 2008 debut, The Good Thief, with a novel of uncommon ...
  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    No One Is Coming to Save Us
    by Stephanie Powell Watts

    One of Entertainment Weekly, Nylon and Elle's most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd rather have been talking

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -