Saturday, August 23, 2008
71. "A Fraction of the Whole" - Steve Toltz
This is the type of book that, like the Torah, you'd kiss the spine, then open to a random page for a quote to get you through the day. Toltz's first novel about the infamous (fictional) Australian Dean family is full of pessimism, hope, redemption, empathy, and appreciation. As Jasper Dean says about his father, he wished that he had told him that he liked him.
Jasper's uncle is the notorious dead criminal Terry Dean, a man whose infamy has outlasted his brother's patience. Jasper's father, Martin, refuses to talk about Terry other than a blistering all nighter that fills the first 200+ pages of this novel.
This was the best part of the book for me. Martin's wild ideas and blunt observations are a writer's goldmine... and a reader's joy. I loved every paragraph.
But, like many books, we know that Jasper is in jail and Martin is dead within the first chapter of the novel, so we have to get on with the story. Sometimes playing catch-up doesn't have the relaxing exuberance of thumbing through memories, which is why I found myself skimming after page 400-ish.
What an amazing accomplishment for Toltz. I would choose this as my number two for the 2008 Man Booker Prize.
4.0 out of 5.0 Kangaroos.