Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Fraction of the Whole

by Steve Toltz.
Quickie recap: Spanning 3 continents and 3 generations, the Dean family recounts the outlandish thoughts and misplaced actions that amount to a crazy lifestyle and a heck of a story.
Quickie review: As the title suggests, the story is indeed fractured, and the whole is a bit on the bloated side, but that said, almost every page has something worth reading. The transitions are a bit stilted, but there's a pay-off in the end that's worth hanging around for. But you have to have patience, not just to thumb through the many pages, but for the distaste of some of the characters. Toltz treats them sympathetically (sometimes too much so), but I guarantee you there will be paragraphs that make you want to slam the book down in disgust (and then inevitably pick it right back up, because curiosity is a powerful thing, and Toltz knows how to lead the reader on). Right out of the gate, we know that Martin Dean is dead, and his body will never be found. It takes many fractions of the whole to understand how, and even then, the motivations and circumstances are so extraordinary but so casually executed that the reader is constantly shaken and abuzz.
Quickie recommendation: Interesting, and so historical that you catch yourself almost thinking that it's "based on a true story".


Lorna said...

"based on a true story" has been my downfall. I get history and historical fiction mixed up, and that's unfortunate but not unusual. The downfall comes when I mix us history and science fiction. I spent years in my 20s waiting for teleportation to go commercial.

Steve said...

It seems especially since "The Da Vinci Code" that the "historical fiction" thing is getting a bit carried away.

There is plenty of history that is already fictional.

Jay said...

I wouldn't quite put this book in that category, not that I've stooped so low as to read the da vinci code. :)