A Fraction of the Whole Paperback – Sep 23 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. At the heart of this sprawling, dizzying debut from a quirky, assured Australian writer are two men: Jasper Dean, a judgmental but forgiving son, and Martin, his brilliant but dysfunctional father. Jasper, in an Australian prison in his early 20s, scribbles out the story of their picaresque adventures, noting cryptically early on that [m]y father's body will never be found. As he tells it, Jasper has been uneasily bonded to his father through thick and thin, which includes Martin's stint managing a squalid strip club during Jasper's adolescence; an Australian outback home literally hidden within impenetrable mazes; Martin's ill-fated scheme to make every Australian a millionaire; and a feverish odyssey through Thailand's menacing jungles. Toltz's exuberant, looping narrative—thick with his characters' outsized longings and with their crazy arguments—sometimes blows past plot entirely, but comic drive and Toltz's far-out imagination carry the epic story, which puts the two (and Martin's own nemesis, his outlaw brother, Terry) on an irreverent roller-coaster ride from obscurity to infamy. Comparisons to Special Topics in Calamity Physics are likely, but this nutty tour de force has a more tender, more worldly spin. (Feb.)
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FINALIST FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE
"This misanthropic, laugh-out-loud funny novel tells the story of a brilliant, eccentric and star-crossed outsider and his son in contemporary Australia. With its chance encounters, mysterious criminals, malevolent townspeople, attacks of mental illness and mad schemes for civic and national improvement, A Fraction of the Whole is not so much a shaggy dog story as a woolly mammoth story." Winnipeg Free Press
"A rich father-and-son story packed with incident, humour, and characters reminiscent of John Irving.... A Fraction of the Whole soars like a rocket." Los Angeles Times
"A riotously funny first novel...harder to ignore than a crate of puppies, twice as playful, and just about as messy." The Wall Street Journal
"Rollicking.... Laugh-out-loud funny." Entertainment Weekly
"Witty and intellectual, a physical comedy and literary rant all at once.... Comically dark and inviting." Esquire --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.