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3.49  ·  Rating details ·  2,332 ratings  ·  433 reviews
A daring, brilliant new novel from Man Booker Prize finalist Steve Toltz, for fans of Dave Eggers, Martin Amis, and David Foster Wallace: a fearlessly funny, outrageously inventive dark comedy about two lifelong friends.

Liam is a struggling writer and a failing cop. Aldo, his best friend and muse, is a haplessly criminal entrepreneur with an uncanny knack for disaster. As
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Simon Schuster (first published April 22nd 2015)
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Betsy I have! I've been waiting forever too, I'd almost given up on Toltz writing another.

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Average rating 3.49  · 
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 ·  2,332 ratings  ·  433 reviews

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Joachim Stoop
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
7 years after the publication of one of my most beloved novels of all time 'A fraction of the whole' Steve Toltz comes with a follow-up. He definitely hasn't lost his sense of humour. He is still the king of wit, puns & oneliners. He still has more crazy thoughts than some 10000 people combined. The guy is a one person think tank!
Because of the absurdity of his ideas and characters he doesn't really seem to care a lot about story & plot. I feel that he tries to give himself as much 'assists' as
MJ Nicholls
Toltz’s first accompanied me on a trip to the Orkney isles, and set the tone for a tempestuous time of bickering and freeloading in a bleak treeless landscape. Toltz’s second was read in a warm comfortable flat with no tantalising backdrop of bleakness and simmering dissent. Nevertheless, I was once more taken on a blistering blackly comedic trip to the darkest recesses of existence, at the core of which sits Toltz, snickering like an imp at the horrors and pratfalls of the human race, often how ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
Steve Toltz is certainly an original and inventive writer. He sets up a frenetic pace from the very beginning and never lets up on it through a madcap series of adventures of two larger-than-life characters. The plot, such as it is, follows the life-long friendship between Liam, a struggling writer and police officer, and Aldo, hapless, charismatic, accident-prone and perennially unlucky. Toltz concentrates on the dynamic between the two, as increasingly Liam uses Aldo as his muse in his attempt ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love Steve Toltz and couldn't believe he had finally written another novel. He is dark and disturbing in the way life is, where he keeps you laughing through the rotteness and horrors his characters deal with, kind of like the universe does in our own existence. If you don't laugh, you spoil. Reading him makes me feel like I am sitting in a pub listening to a brilliant friend enlightening and depressing me all at once. It is a strangely intense experience reading his musings, because the story ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Reads like it was written by a brilliant author, the night before it was due.

Some extremely strong sentences, fabulous observations, and many witty one liners that slap you in the face with their sharpness. But as a novel – as a 368 page complete “piece" – it’s mostly a band-aided collection of waffle, with little plot, coherence, and even less editing.

I feel like I’m writing a school report : “Toltz could do great things, if he would concentrate on his work, complete his homework, and stop sh
Alan Stuart
Dec 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: on-hold
couldn't finish it. got to 75% but decided life is too short and started to skim through the rest. even that was torture.
Gumble's Yard
Jan 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016
Bizarre, tragicomic novel ostensibly about two Australian’s, but really about friendship and failure. Liam is a perennially blocked writer and now a policeman (after enrolling in a police training school while researching a novel about a policeman who ran over his sister, he eventually gives up on writing and realises the only thing he is qualified for is the police force). Aldo is a larger than life friend since school, a character struck by a Job-like level of misfortune (a parallel drawn expl ...more
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: won-or-blagged
This is a belter of a book. It's that very rare thing - a book that's described as funny that actually made me laugh. More than once. Out loud.

Incidentally, have you ever wondered why funny books don't win prizes? It's because we can all identify with tragedy, but humour is extremely subjective. Something that reduces you to a quivering giggling heap can leave me cold as a penguin eating a Cornetto. Plus by its very definition, it isn't serious whereas in some circles, the more miserable somethi
Adrian White
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Disappointingly all over the place, when you consider just how good A Fraction of the Whole was.
Marc Kozak
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Steve Toltz is a stand-up comedian stuck in a literary novelist's body. His brilliant first novel was 600 pages of non-stop one liners and observational humor, written as if Toltz was desperately emptying his body of jokes before he died without telling them. Toltz doesn't really do deep characters -- they're more vehicles for his own routine. If you think he's funny (which I very much do), it's brilliant. If you don't, it can be exhausting, although Toltz certainly has the literary chops to kee ...more
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Somewhere towards the end of this book, Liam, its principal narrator, an aspiring author, confesses to being totally bored by "plot". It's tempting to think of it as a fourth wall breaking moment with Steve Toltz offering a "sorry, not sorry" explanation for the random, rambling nature of the book, at a point that you are almost done with it.

At its core, Quicksand is about a couple of friends Aldo Benjamin and Liam, as they fumble and fail through life, moving through an ever escalating scale o
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
Wow! If it hadn't been for book club I would never have read this book. I have never read anything quite like it and I am finding it difficult to find the right words to review it.

It took me quite a while to read the book and at times I really had no idea what was happening or where the story was going. The pace is a frenetic one and ideas/topics seem to come from someone who is either high on LSD or totally unhinged. The story is crammed full of absurd settings with many digressions which leave
This is a massive sweaty beast of a novel brimming with witty one liners and ideas. It leaves you thinking I really liked that book, I think? There times when this book is exhausting, Toltz has many ideas on creativity, inspiration and muses, failure, success, masculinity, love and lose. It is a dense book. I think I tried to read it too quickly, eat it all at once was it were and it gave a me a stomach ache. But I should have realised this from the writing, Toltz will place words, unusual tasti ...more
William Koon
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Where’s Aldo? Well, he’s in the middle of one of the most wildly inventive novels of the year. He does everything wrong in trying to do everything right. So we are placed in the middle of this man’s world, a man who has ideas. I think his best is the iris recognition chastity belt.

It’s the Diary of a Madman told by Kafka as interpreted by Fred Exley and explained by Sebastian Dangerfield. Don’t look for plot, other than one brother who is a failed writer and becomes a cop in Australia tries to
May 04, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 really, almost a 4. It's inventive, weird and there's some stupendously brilliant sentences, which I actually grabbed a pencil to underline. No surprises there if you're a fan. I was motivated to keep going, I wasn't dragged at any point, although it was a close call when I got to the poem. And the prison pages were a hard slog. I laughed throughout, although not as often as I assumed I might. I bought the book at an event that Steve Toltz spoke at and he was delightful and engaging. The boo ...more
a black dark comedy that threatens to jump the rails at even given moment, but stays on till the what? end? interesting ideas of fate, and what we can do about it. blurbs mention similarities with vonnegut, walt whitman and kafks. pretty much
May 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Here is a funny, smart book that is absolutely depressing. There is no hope for any of the characters, life is miserable and that is the verdict. Enjoy.
This is a bit all over the place. Expected so much more from Steve Toltz. I guess I was a bit of a sucker like everyone else who came to this book half-expecting the genius of A FRACTION OF THE WHOLE to come through in Steve's latest outing. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a terrible book and if you have half an open mind you just might enjoy it. You have to forget you've read A Fraction before, if you come to this minus having read A Fraction, Steve's manic characters might overwhelm you. As far ...more
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do you have that one friend who is continually in trouble, who can't catch a break from a cracked egg, whose life is a pattern of wrong turns? Liam, the wanna-be writer who is stalling as a policeman, has this friend, Aldo Benjamin.
I do not know how to capture this book for others as it is so far removed from anything else I've ever read and so jam-packed, filled, crammed, stuffed with descriptive suggestions that it's beyond being able to contain them in summary.
It is extremely insightful and
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c21st, 15review, australia
I finished reading this book late last night and I am still overwhelmed by it. It was unputdownable for the last 200-odd pages, and food for considerable thought long after the light was turned off. Definitely a contender for any intelligently-judged awards that are going around.

It’s a wild ride. Words tumble over themselves in torrents as narrators Aldo and Liam hurtle through a kind of brotherhood forged in grief for their dead sisters. They have nothing else in common at all except their wit:
3.5 stars

Steve Tolz’s previous novel was highly praised by many and it is on my very long to-be-read list; so, I had to request his latest when I noticed it on NetGalley. Thanks to Simon&Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Quicksand.

This was an unusual novel, like nothing I’ve ever read before. I’m not even sure if I liked it or not.
It’s the story of two unlikely friends: Liam, a failed writer and policeman and Aldo, a very unlucky man, who’s more of a criminal entrepreneur. They’ve
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I know I said I would be disappointed if I read a book I liked better than Forever Young (dumb thing to say) but I am not. I want to invite Steve Toltz to a long lunch. When I finished Fraction of a Whole I wondered if he could "do" it again, and, although it took far too long, he has.
I can see that Quicksand has had very mixed reviews but I think, in Aldo Benjamin, Toltz has created a fabulous character. Aldo is relentlessly irritating, intriguing, frustrating and endearing. He is an optimistic
Robert Spencer
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
First of all, thanks Apple for deleting my half written review when my iPad locked screen after I put a good half hour into writing it. Brilliant stuff.

Where the fuck was I? Something about how, yes, I know, this novel is highly flawed, hideously self indulgent, and frustratingly resistant to the conventions of plot. How Steve Toltz is just showing off shamelessly - how many ridiculously profound aphorisms can you fit into 500 pages?

But that's the thing. They ARE profound. They ARE hilarious. Th
Sep 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
First red flag: a review calling this book "daring and brilliant", could mean anything. Main character is a failed writer turned cop, apparently becoming a cop is rolling off a log. His best friend is simply one depressing, mistake after another, usually dragging his acquaintances down with him. I made it 50 pgs into this book and counted nine crude, sophomoric discussions. Here are just a few: riddled with breasts (what?) and as a teen he wrote about his father's same-sex infidelities and then ...more
Lisa Hall
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a hard book to review - one of those ones that I don't realise that I've actually really enjoyed it until I've finished. The characters are unusual - Aldo is weird and sad and miserable - and I wasn't sure at first how I would take to them, but I soon found myself getting attached.

This is a strange, rambling story, but one that is hard going yet still addictive reading. There were places where I wasn't sure that I wanted to carry on, but there is something about this novel that meant I
Marc Nash
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steve Toltz's second novel is acerbically funny and insightful, but it's not really a novel. A sort of memoir of an impossible person, "the patron saint of statistical anomalies", it's part mad recollections and half-baked philosophical aphorisms about modern life.

There is a laugh or a bon mot on every page. Just to give you a taster: "waves foreclose on children's sandcastles". Or "Detox and anorexia rendered asceticism meaningless decades ago".

So lots of entertaining sentences and ideas but do
Jul 12, 2015 rated it liked it
"Human endurance is absurd. It can take ANYTHING. You know this. Can't there please be a point where once a person has reached a maximum of suffering they just explode? "

This book was hard. It's message is partly dissolved in humor but the message is still solid and sad. I think probably 100 pages could have been edited out but it was touching, dark and leaves you feeling empty.
Hasti Moghaddam
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Steve Toltz! There must be hell in your head.
Mehran Fani
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
A stereotypical book from an smart ass author who knows the the taste of today audiences and readers and how to sell them feeling of empathy in their darkest moment of life!...However you could still enjoy reading of book as a reminder of many life scenes and senses in common with all human!... It could be 100 pages then 400 ones. But author has extended the story thanks to overload of boring descriptive traits & features of characters and their lives!...You feel like the writer is killing himse ...more
Margaret Bamford
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very unusual novel that is very cleverly written with humour and tragedy intertwined. The characters of Aldo and Liam are very clearly brought to life and I found it easy to feel for both of them and laughed and cried with them.
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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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