Steve Toltz – A Fraction of the Whole


A Fraction of the Whole is like a joke that is told so many times that it loses its appeal quickly.

The basis of the novel is father/son relationships and it is narrated by Jasper Dean. The majority of the book is about Jasper’s life but, also included is his father’s Martin. In order to create variety the sections which focus on Jasper’s father are narrated by his dad in the form of a journal, anecdote or scribbles from an unpublished autobiography. By the end Jasper wonders if his destiny will be similar to his father’s, something he refuses to acknowledge.

The book has a ton of subplots, red herrings and, in the first hundred pages, some genuinely funny moments. Totlz’s style is flowing and breezy. However my gripe is that there were quite a few times where I was completely bored of what was happening. I put this down to the length of the book. To read 700 pages of four or five characters who constantly reoccur just gets frustrating, also the fact that Toltz tries to stuff dozens of plotlines within the novel means that it goes on too many diversions. If the A Fraction of the Whole was a mere 250 pages I would have loved this novel but as it is, one just gets annoyed at Toltz’s smug prose and his ‘look how intelligent I am’ plot twists.

I won’t say avoid this novel but unless you like semi funny situations and deus ex machina moments then you’ll love this, if the above get on your nerves then approach with caution.