A Fraction of the Whole: Steve Toltz

My goodness, where to begin? How to define a mammoth work of comic genius that’s both an ambling, philosophical journey, and an intricate detective story that pieces together the tale of one very dysfunctional family? To try, let’s just say that the Dean family hits the headlines when Terry Dean, a first-class juvenile delinquent, embarks on a life of crime that makes him the most notorious and, oddly enough, beloved criminal in Australia. After his untimely death, elder brother Martin Dean is left to spend the rest of his life living in his brother’s shadow, whilst catapulting himself from one bizarre adventure to the next.

Meanwhile his son Jasper records his father’s exploits, all the while poking fun at innumerable aspects of contemporary Australian society. It took until a third of the way through for me to really get into the book (the start of Part 3), but from then on there was no putting it down. Unless you’re very politically correct, it’ll have you spluttering with laughter too, and even at this early stage, A Fraction of the Whole can safely be designated a comic masterpiece.