19 March 2011

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

Fraction of the WholeThis is the 711 page tale of Jasper and his father, Martin. Fractions of stories are related; those stories are fractions of their lives, and their lives are fractions of the greater world. All of this was inspired by a quote from Emerson "The moment we meet with anybody, each becomes a fraction." 

The plot twists and turns so many times it would seem unbelievable if I tried to list some of the things that happen in this book. The whole thing is a bit on the dark side, but with humor throughout. Toltz manages to poke fun at modern day Australian society through the telling of his work of fiction. The main part of the book is Jasper telling the reader the story of his life but to do so he must also tell us of his father's life, and to do that he must tell of his father's brother's life too. At times, the point of view is changed and the story is taken over by Martin's voice. The pace rolls furiously; the reader doesn't lose interest. 

I was a bit worried at the length of this book, wondering if maybe I would find the whole story pointless. I actually liked it. I liked the way the author connected a lot of different threads of the story. It speaks a lot about relationships and philosophy but what it says is interesting and I can believe that some people do feel the way the characters felt even though I don't. Toltz manages to take some pretty crazy characters and cause the reader to empathize with them. The story is, at the same time, funny and tragic. I think I picked this book up because of the cover and the title initially. I probably then read the blurb on the back cover and decided to give it a try. I read the whole book during a week's holiday in Portugal in October 2009. It was a great piece of fiction for a beach vacation.
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