From Publishers Weekly
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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"Brilliantly read by both actors to make you mourn as much as laugh, this David Copperfield Down Under on speed with son is an epic in every sense, including length. But don't be tempted, even if there is one, to get an abridged version. Every macabre detail, every chaotic incident, every wisecrack is an essential fraction of the whole. Heartfelt thanks to Whole Story Audio for getting this and half the other 2008 Booker shortlist out so quickly. To cut a single sentence would be criminal." Sue Arnold, The Guardian (audiobook review) "Sparkling comic writing." The Independent. "With tinges of magical realism and buckets of misanthropic humour it's a clever and funny debut." The Observer "A grand achievement and the debut of a great comic talent... go away and read it." The Sunday Times "Utterly brilliant." The Times"
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