About Me

My photo
New York, New York, United States
"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel."

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Fraction of the Whole

A Fraction of the Whole is, in essence, the quirky saga of Martin Dean and his son Jasper. Martin is a professed misanthrope, railing against anything and everything, but especially against the institution that is society. He has serious hang-ups about his brother Terry, who was revered by the general public as first a sports star and then an infamous murderer. Martin's gripes with life are passed down to his son Jasper who grows up struggling to be his own person, but finding it basically impossible with his father's constant diatribes poisoning his independent thought.

Martin's unusual life takes him from the Australian bush, to languid Paris, to a labyrinth of his own making and to sweltering Thailand. Peppered in the midst of these journeys are both Martin's and Jasper's acute and often side-splittingly hilarious view on life.

A few of my favorites:

"I have nothing against children, I just wouldn't trust one not to giggle if I accidentally stepped on a land mine"

"Her mask was a weave of tattered shreds torn from all the beautiful parts of herself."

"loneliness..how it's like the slow squeeze of testicles by a hand that's just been in a refrigerator."

"Play the game of life without trying to work out the rules...and above all, bless every single minute of this silly season in hell"

I thought this book was absolutely brilliant. Delightfully strange and so damned funny. The characters leap out of the pages with their varied idiosyncracies. (My only quibble is that it's tough to differentiate between Martin's voice and Jasper's. Although I suppose that's Toltz's point.)

And while I'm not a misanthrope (at least not all the time), I felt an unholy glee reading through the many anti-everything tirades scattered throughout the novel. What a refreshing read!

1 comment:

Andrew Royce said...

I just got this book based on your review alone.
Thanks in advance.

The Readfest begins today.