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Book Review: A Fraction of the Whole
Steve Toltz
Cover image of the product A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
A Fraction of the Whole
Steve Toltz
2008 /
Review by Kathy Parsons
I’m a little late to the party with my review here, so I’ll leave it to the previous reviewers to explain the characters and plot points of this tome. I absolutely loved the first 400 or so pages and couldn’t put the book down. It reminded me a bit of Ken Kesey’s masterpiece, “Sometimes A Great Notion,” with its alternating narrators and philosophical points of view. Even though all of the main characters are more than a little eccentric, the book allows us to see how life is viewed through the eyes of folks we probably encounter on a daily basis without really noticing. The narration and storytelling from both Martin’s and Jasper’s points of view are a riot of thoughts and observations, but my impression was that both were normally very quiet and unremarkable to strangers and casual acquaintances. Martin becomes larger than life as he faces the prospect of his own impending death, and that’s where the novel started to lose me. As tragic as some of the plot becomes in the last 150 pages, there were times when I couldn’t see the point of why these events needed to be in the novel unless they were to tie everything together and to show that no matter how much we think we’re in control of our lives, we really are not. In any event, much of the book is laugh-out-loud funny, and the characters are always interesting. It would have been nice to know a little more about the three main female characters and how they came to be who they were, but since the narrators probably didn’t have this information (and probably didn’t care enough to ask), this is forgivable. For a first novel, this is quite an amazing book, and I look forward to reading what Steve Toltz comes up with next.
June 18, 2008