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A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
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A Fraction of the Whole (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Steve Toltz

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1,449615,171 (3.91)111
Member:psutto
Title:A Fraction of the Whole
Authors:Steve Toltz
Info:Spiegel & Grau (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:12 in 12

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A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz (2008)

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English (56)  Dutch (4)  German (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Funny in parts, but not worth the time investment. ( )
  Brainannex | Mar 31, 2016 |
Everything that has been said about this novel, already has been said. I was not moved by the story at the beginning. The first thing that I did notice is the way the story is written. It is unique. The dialog and the descriptions the Steve Toltz uses is outstanding. More than humorous I would say it is very witty. I never busted out laughing, but would read the witty lines over and over again.
A little past half way through the book, I almost gave up, thinking that I had already read the best part and I could not see where this was going. I hung in there and am happy that I did.
I was pleased with how the author tied up everything at the end. No stone was left un-turned.
Although it is a long book, it is worth reading. I fell in love with this book and I now call it one of my favourites. ( )
  callmejacx | Feb 16, 2016 |
Riotously funny and unique. ( )
1 vote tashlyn88 | Feb 5, 2016 |
I find it hard to write about this book and was torn between three and four stars. It is so difficult to even say what this book is about. Sometimes I laughed out loud at the situations the main character found himself in. On the surface, it was a fictional autobiography of an Australian man whose uncle was a renowned serial killer of sports figures who cheated, whose mother committed suicide in Paris when he was only an infant, whose extremely intelligent father was plagued with multiple mental illnesses (including extreme paranoia) and built a huge labyrinth in which to place his home, and who was always mysteriously followed throughout his life by a man from Thailand who was constantly taking his picture. It may appear that I should have listed this as a spoiler, but it is only a tiny fraction of the book. This was not an "I can't put it down page-turner," but I knew that it was a book that I had to finish reading. I'm glad I did. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
The life stories of Terry Dean, his half-brother Martin Dean, and Martin’s son, Jasper, make up most of the fractions of this novel. Sometimes the first-person narrator is Martin, sometimes it is Jasper. But it really makes no difference since their voices sound exactly the same. Indeed everyone’s voice sounds the same in this lengthy but tiresome first novel. There are moments of wit and startling similes, which in isolation might suggest a novel of insight and humour. Unfortunately the whole ends up being much less than a fraction of its parts.

There is a kind of flatness in this writing, almost like a naïve painting with no perspective. Indeed the comparison might be taken further, given the distortion of the human form often found in naïve painting. Here the characters are thin and exaggerated and typically grotesque. The environment in which they live, which is ostensibly Australia (and latterly Thailand), is completely bereft of identifying marks. It might be anywhere at all. Or nowhere. As the story develops and the voice of the narrator is passed from Jasper to Martin and back to Jasper, you may get the impression that the author simply got tired of one voice at a certain point and switched to the other in order to sustain his interest, not unlike alternately standing on one leg and then the other. This might also explain the coarse peppering of the text with quotes from philosophers and writers from across the ages. Perhaps a bland stew needs such seasoning. But what it really needs is more careful cooking.

Not recommended. Not even a fraction of it. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | May 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
I'm sorry if I'm beginning to make it sound a bit rollicking. The stories, in fact, follow a pattern: they are almost all tales of good intentions with catastrophic results, such as the suggestion box which Martin installs on the town-hall steps and which at first instils a new sense of purpose and confidence in the community, but quickly brings out the worst in everyone and leads to his brother being sectioned. Taken individually, they're funny; taken together, the unbreakability of the pattern and the inevitability of disaster is heartbreaking.
added by Milesc | editThe Guardian (Jun 21, 2008)
 
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You never hear about a sportsman losing his sense of smell in a tragic accident, and for good reason; in order for the universe to teach excruciating lessons that we are unable to apply in later life, the sportsman must lose his legs, the philosopher his mind, the painter his eyes, the musician his ears, the chef his tongue
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385521731, Paperback)

Meet the Deans

“The fact is, the whole of Australia despises my father more than any other man, just as they adore my uncle more than any other man. I might as well set the story straight about both of them . . .”

Heroes or Criminals?
Crackpots or Visionaries?
Families or Enemies?

“. . . Anyway, you know how it is. Every family has a story like this one.”



Most of his life, Jasper Dean couldn’t decide whether to pity, hate, love, or murder his certifiably paranoid father, Martin, a man who overanalyzed anything and everything and imparted his self-garnered wisdom to his only son. But now that Martin is dead, Jasper can fully reflect on the crackpot who raised him in intellectual captivity, and what he realizes is that, for all its lunacy, theirs was a grand adventure.
As he recollects the events that led to his father’s demise, Jasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveries—about his infamous outlaw uncle Terry, his mysteriously absent European mother, and Martin’s constant losing battle to make a lasting mark on the world he so disdains. It’s a story that takes them from the Australian bush to the cafes of bohemian Paris, from the Thai jungle to strip clubs, asylums, labyrinths, and criminal lairs, and from the highs of first love to the lows of failed ambition. The result is a rollicking rollercoaster ride from obscurity to infamy, and the moving, memorable story of a father and son whose spiritual symmetry transcends all their many shortcomings.
A Fraction of the Whole is an uproarious indictment of the modern world and its mores and the epic debut of the blisteringly funny and talented Steve Toltz.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:01 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"For most of his life, Jasper Dean couldn't decide whether to pity, hate, love, or murder his certifiably paranoid father, Martin, a man who overanalyzed anything and everything and imparted his self-garnered wisdom to his only son. But now that Martin is dead, Jasper can fully reflect on the crackpot who raised him in intellectual captivity, and what he realizes is that, for all its lunacy, theirs was a grand adventure." "As he recollects the events that led to his father's demise, Jasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveries - about his infamous outlaw uncle, Terry, his mysteriously absent European mother, and Martin's constant losing battle to make a lasting mark on the world he so disdains. It's a story that takes them from the Australian bush to the cafes of bohemian Paris, from the Thai jungle to strip clubs, asylums, labyrinths, and criminal lairs, and from the highs of first love to the lows of failed ambition. The result is a wild roller-coaster ride from obscurity to infamy, and the moving, memorable story of a father and son whose spiritual symmetry transcends all their many shortcomings." "A Fraction of the Whole is an uproarious indictment of the modern world and its mores, and the epic debut of the blisteringly funny and talented Steve Toltz."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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