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A Fraction Of The Whole
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A Fraction Of The Whole

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  7,044 ratings  ·  1,051 reviews
Martin Dean spent his entire life analyzing absolutely everything, from the benefits of suicide to the virtues of strip clubs versus brothels. Now that he's dead, his son Jasper can fully reflect on the man who raised him in intellectual captivity, and the irony is: theirs was a grand adventure.
As he recollects the extraordinary events that led to his father's demise, Jasp
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710 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Amanda
Jan 23, 2008 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Amanda by: RandomReads
Holy... just holy, holy, holy. A Fraction of the Whole starts good, stays good for five hundred pages and three continents, is laugh-out-loud funny throughout, at certain points made my jaw drop in astonishment/horror, contains so many beautiful passages (you know the kind where you go yes! that's so true! like one about how it takes a couple hours to feel the sun on city streets in the morning, and one about the sounds of swimming pools), and gives us a couple of unforgettable characters, who e ...more
Oriana
Well, I'm sorry, but I really didn't like this book. I feel a bit guilty for this, first because it came recommended by people whose tastes I totally trust (sorry Amanda! sorry Kira!), and second because, due to my really shamefully busy life, it took me a ludicrously long time to read this (sorry Steve Toltz). So yeah, I mean, it was my fault—not Steve's—that this book has been hanging menacingly over my head for freaking ages. But let's face it, Steve, it's your fault that your book just wasn' ...more
MJ Nicholls
I read this monstrous, merciless Australian comedy in a shack in Orkney in June 2010. For those unfamiliar with Orkney, it’s a small Scottish island known for its flatness. In the Annual Flatness Contest, Orkney narrowly beat the Whole of the Netherlands to win the coveted flatness trophy—a trophy crushed several times by a JCB hauler and shipped to a factory where extensive smelting work is done on its remaining points and prongs until the award achieves a “flatitude” of such 180˚ perfection as ...more
Lolly LKH
I am shocked to see anyone complain about this book being too long. I spent the majority of my time laughing like a madwoman when I read A Fraction of the Whole. Just this part alone made me think of all my cynical Hungarian elders, because man do they think like this "The younger passengers let out cries of joy. The older passengers knew that the key to happiness lay in keeping your expectations low. They booed." There was not one sentence that I would be happy seeing taken away. WHAT A WORK OF ...more
Paul
Nov 23, 2012 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paul by: M J Nicholls (not deliberately)
Shelves: novels
What does it take to abandon a 711 page novel on page 458? After all there are only – er – 253 more pages to go. Finish it! No…! The thing is, I bought a bookcase this week – ah, how beautiful it is. Not one of those damned filthy flat-packs, no. This one was carpentered by doughty craftsmen and delivered in one piece to my very door. So now I have all my unread books collected together in one room. My God – there are so many of them. Frankly I had no idea. I think I have been going mouseclick c ...more
Paul
Thoroughly enjoyable and difficult to categorise. This debut novel is 700 pages long and bowls along at a very rapid pace. It is a very funny generational saga about brothers Martin and Terry Dean and Martin’s son Jasper. It’s pretty much totally unbelievable and there is extraordinary level of cynicism about life and the human condition; something which should delight even the most misanthropic.
It is set in Australia and ranges across France and Thailand as well. There are philosophical element
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jordan
Wow, the New York Times reviewer couldn't have gotten this one mroe wrong.

One comes up a bit short trying to describe "A Fraction of the Whole." True, the book deals with the relationship of an eccentric father and son, but it is about that only in the way the "Confederacy of Dunces" is about a large rather odd man living in New Orleans. Indeed, it is Toole's classic "Dunces" which most often comes to mind when reading Toltz's "Whole," both highly original works in which odd protagonists offer m
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Nancy Oakes
I am simply blown away by the fact that this is Steve Toltz's first novel. This is one book where size doesn't matter: the 500 + pages literally flew in no time. I just started this the day before yesterday, and if silly things like sleep and family (not to mention preparing for a tropical storm) didn't get in the way, I'm sure I would have finished it yesterday.

I cannot, absolutely cannot do this book justice so I won't go into plot details, etc, but suffice it to say that this is undeniably o
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Melki
The past is a truly inoperable tumor that spreads to the present.

Jasper Dean and his father Martin have little in common other than the fact that neither one seems capable of keeping goldfish alive, but they both live in the shadow of Martin's brother, Terry Dean, a man who gained notoriety for being a sort of "Poor Sportsmanship Avenger," a vigilante who liberated sport from the dirty hands of corruption.

It's incredibly hard to describe what exactly this book is about, and why I enjoyed it so m
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Saba
To be fair I didn't finish this, so maybe the last half contained some redemption. It was amusing enough, but there was wasn't a single character I cared about.
kira
The most memorable novel I've read in at least five years.
Kevin
The term The Great American Novel is often bandied about. But what about The Great Australian Novel ? How come a country so full of fascinating characters has produced so few stories about them? Well this is it. The Great Australian Novel. The fun loving, rebellious, heroic & egalitarian nature of the Australian character is displayed on virtually every page. Every page contains insanely brilliant and incredibly hilarious observations of modern day Australian society. All aspects are covered ...more
Seth Hahne
To begin with, a poorly-devised haiku review:

Stained honour, dented ego,
As we bury up our dead.
Smiles can last for miles

________________

I had better get on my horse and start writing my own novels because Steve Toltz has been a-thieving from my brain stock. Both of A Fraction of the Whole's protagonists, Martin and Jasper, throw off a continuous stream of ideas and summations of the human experience that my friends are probably pretty tired of hearing spouted from my own mouth. From their ranti
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Joe
Nov 13, 2008 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: DWGibb, Tracey, Jill, Paula
This is the best thing I have read in quite a while. It's a first novel that portends great things to come from Steve Toltz. It's brilliant, demented, hilarious and very inventive. It definitely claims a high place in my top ten list. It's the story of a man and his father, and their dispeptic relationship. Toltz has an amazing way with words, and the situations he finds his characters in are at times wonderfully bizarre, and their bent view of the world is the result. The author has no fear of ...more
David
Funny. Brilliant. Dense.

The protagonist Martin Dean on Europe:
"Paris-perfect city to be lonely & miserable in.
O London! You grisly town! You cold gray cloud! You low-lying layer of mist & fog. You dense moan.
And Rome? Full of sexual predators who live with their mothers.
Spain? Streets smell like socks fried in urine-too many catholics baptized in piss".
On regrets... "To this day the memory of that look still visits me like a Jehovah's witness, uninvited and tireless."

Martin Dean isn'
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Brendan
LOOK, i dont mind quirky, even wacky, but zany i cant take and this book is zany as hell and seemingly grounded in nothing. toltz is funny, punchy and wicked so why on earth would he write such a long book? (732pgs) surely a long book has something to say that demands its long-bookedness. tolstoy, go for it, write a long book - you deserve it, you go to the depths of us but not this fellow (despite the booker shortlist). modern film seems to be doing this too. 'i dont know how to make a great mo ...more
Emily
I just could not finish this book. Usually I have to finish reading a book because I really want to see where they go with it, even if some of the book wasn't that great. This one just kept getting worse and more depressing and yucky. I don't really care what happens to these characters. Some of their problems were not their own fault but some of them were and I just found myself getting too frustrated with the choices they kept making. It is a very quirky and creative story. Even after the nega ...more
Melody
Jan 01, 2009 Melody rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This is my favorite book this year. In fact, I'd place it as one of my all-time favorites, ever.

I like it for the same reason I like some of Neal Stephenson's books: it's chock-full of quirky characters, striking juxtapositions, and ideas that will give your brain a tickle. Like Stephenson, Toltz is a generous writer who never takes the easy path of moving a plot along by means of a plain, unadorned sentence. Instead, he packs it full of what one reviewer called "verbal dynamite," and another de
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Lori (Hellian)
OMFG GR just ate my long review! I am upset - I really poured my heart out here! I can not repeat that heartfeltedness again! PISSED!

So in a nutshell - a fine book that is a 3 because my experience of it 2/3 way through was TOO CLOSE TO HOME and stirred up all my too-early childhood fear of death because of growing up Jewish in the aftermath of the Holocaust learning the horror much too young. NOWHERE TO GO NOWHERE TO HIDE. (maybe Antarctica if I could get there) Please God don't let me die, I p
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Grace Harwood
Just when I'd completely and utterly lost faith in publishing - just when you think they're all corrupt bastards who are owned by pop stars and footballers - Penguin come up trumps and publish something that is actually worth reading. This book is described by The Guardian as "Funny, heartbreaking, brilliant" and there it is, in three words. Not a chapter passed when I did not laugh out loud at the one-liners, the frequent displays of acerbic wit - not a moment when I was not awed by the skill w ...more
Arif
What a waste of my life. I left the last couple of pages unread just to make a statement of sorts.
Banafsheh Serov
Short Listed for the Man Booker prize in 2008, 'A Fraction of the Whole' was originally rejected by agents and publishers in Australia. It was only through a chance contact that the book was brought to the attention of Random House America and like a real-life fairytale went on to receive worldwide release and a nod from the most prestigeous literary prize.

Set in Australia, the book follows the Deans Family as retold by Martin Dean.
'The fact is, the whole of Australia despises my father more tha
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Lindsey
Well, I hope what I say here comes close to what this book made me feel, although honestly, that's very difficult. I read loads of reviews on this site, as well as the 'professional one-liners' in the book itself, and they all differ so much! So if you've read this book, or if you're comparing reviews, this one will probably be different, again.

And that's just it. This multidimensional book encompasses so much: a long line of wacky characters who have so many adventures and experiences that make
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Brad
I have one of those tacky, International Bestseller, trade paperback, short-listed for the Man Booker copies of A Fraction of the Whole, and its cover is totally f*cking misleading.

Not only is it covered with bullet holes (hardly a shot is fired in the entire book), but the quotes about how funny this book is dominate the obligatory accolades section:
"Laugh-out-loud-funny." ~~Entertainment Weekly
"Riotously funny ... deserves a place next to A Confederacy of Dunces." ~~Wall Street Journal
"A nutty
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Philip
I read this sprawling story for my in-person book discussion group. A Fraction of the Whole is long, engrossing, scary-funny, sad, horrifying, profane, profound, provocative in all the best ways. A convoluted plot with vividly strange characters whose lives I actually cared about even when I could barely stand to visualize their actions.

I can see why reviewers are reminded of John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tom Robbins; further comparisons I've seen to Twain, Dickens, Garcia Marquez, Borges and
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Georg
I don't like books which take themselves too seriously, books with no surprises, books with a "message" or books containing a) dreams, b) funerals and/or c) pets in the family.
I like books with mazes, criminals, burning jails,jokes (I can understand) and with at least a little Douglas Adams spirit. So there is no reason for less than 5 stars. What I learned from this book: Australia is as weird a place as I thought it is.
Brian
This was the best book I have read this year. Hands down. Read it now.
Aaron Briggs
Fantastic first novel and a really great read. I found this based on a recommendation and that recommendation turned out to be spot on (thanks, Chris).

"A Fraction of the Whole" benefits from being wildly unrestrained -- Toltz is enviably imaginative in the way he constructs his characters and the only-slightly-unbelievable events that shape them. It's ruminative, but it never takes a breath to really ruminate. In fact, the whole novel skips along at a whiplash pace from one scenario to another t
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Leslie
This was a unique reading experience. It's compared to "A Confederacy of Dunces" but the amusement, though constant and relentless, is of a much deeper and crueler nature - human nature. This was a long one and I wanted a big payoff in the end. I got it about 100 pages from the conclusion, but then wanted even more. I sort of got it and then didn't. The nature of the book led me to believe that was fair enough. The author's voice is blatantly present in this novel. You can often hear him screami ...more
Jan
It's been months since I've had the pleasure of reading a novel like this one, in no small part due to Steve Toltz's sheer energy. Every page drips with zany metaphors that never seem out of place, and the velocity of the plot itself kept me glued to the book, often putting me in mind of a tragic and philosophical episode of South Park.

Why do I only give it four stars? I would say that "Fraction of the Whole" suffers from being occasionally over-wordy, and the prose is often overly repetitive. I
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A fraction of the whole 9 118 Mar 19, 2013 07:22PM  
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Steve Toltz (born in 1972) is an Australian novelist.

Toltz graduated from the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, in 1994. Prior to his literary career, he lived in Montreal, Vancouver, New York, Barcelona, and Paris, variously working as a cameraman, telemarketer, security guard, private investigator, English teacher, and screenwriter.

A Fraction of the Whole, his first novel, was released i
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More about Steve Toltz...
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“Sometimes not talking is effortless, and other times it’s more exhausting than lifting pianos.” 143 likes
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