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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: New People
    New People
    by Danzy Senna
    Danzy Senna has spent virtually her entire writing career exploring the complicated intersections of...
  • Book Jacket: Hunger
    Hunger
    by Roxane Gay
    In this penetrating and fearless memoir, author Roxane Gay discusses her battle with body acceptance...
  • Book Jacket: The Black Witch
    The Black Witch
    by Laurie Forest
    In The Black Witch, Laurie Forest introduces her readers to an immersive fantasy world where ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

Cruel Beautiful World examines the intricate, infinitesimal distance between seduction and love, loyalty and duty.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Young Jane Young
    by Gabrielle Zevin

    From the author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry comes a novel that will have everyone talking.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Hame

Hame by Annalena McAfee

A rich, sultry novel about a young American fleeing a crumbling marriage for a remote Scottish island.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A F Out O W

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.