A Fraction of the Whole: Steve Toltz Book Review

Dave’s turn: A Fraction of the Whole is narrated by Jasper Dean who tells us the story of  his overanalyzing, philosophical, paranoid father, Martin and his deceased master criminal uncle, Terry. As he tells us of the events that led to his father’s demise, he recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and unwanted adventures.

The story starts in an Australian prison cell but travels to the cafes of Paris, through Thai jungles to strip clubs, asylums, mazes and criminal lairs. The result is a non stop diatribe- for and against- politics, family, love, relationships, religion and humanity.

Throughout the story we are witness to Jasper’s constant struggle with his relationship with his father. Not knowing from one moment to the next if he loves, hates or is going to murder him. And although we get the sense that he wants to leave (after Jasper reads, in one of his fathers many journals, that he is thought of as nothing more than a premature reincarnation of his father)  to form his own identity, there is the constant inner struggle of how, or in fact if he truly wants to. I thought this was an interesting insight that explores the sometimes tumultuous relationships we sometimes can have with our own parents.

I found Steve Toltz’s writing style, philosophical ramblings and play on words more enjoyable than the story itself, which can get a little flat at times. I found myself re-reading and underlining (then suddenly realizing I had borrowed the book) certain brilliant and hilarious observations on our existence. This book has made me really think about my own life and world around it and has made me want to read more philosophy. I feel when a book has this affect it has done it’s job. I look forward to Toltz’s next writing.

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