Arts and Entertainment

Find imagination, humor in ‘Fraction’

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I knew that I was in for a treat when I saw “A Fraction of the Whole” shortlisted for a 2008 Man Booker award.

Man Booker is a charity organization with the sole agenda of awarding one top prize each year to honor the very best in fiction. The Booker judges did not disappoint with their selection of “A Fraction of the Whole.”

This book is about, literally, everything. I know that this sounds strange, but hear me out — ‘Fraction’ involves two main characters, Martin Dean and his son, Jasper, and how they view life.

Martin is a certifiably crazy father who believes that mainstream living lacks thought, purpose and satisfaction. Martin wants more for himself. In an effort to arrive at a purposeful life, he questions the intrinsic truth of everything. Martin fancies himself a philosopher, but to those living an ordinary existence, he comes across as an odd, uncompromising, walking stew of ideas.

Unexpectedly, Martin becomes a father and like any good parent, he wishes to steer his child clear of any dangers, mainly by following the crowd. This book is written from the child’s perspective. It is Jasper’s coming of age story in which he recounts being raised unconventionally, which leaves him a judgmental, confused and lonely outcast. In order to find his own way through life, Jasper is forced to examine his upbringing of intellectual captivity by a “crackpot” father and determine whether his father’s life lessons were brilliant or lunacy. As such, both characters examine issues of family bonds, jealousy, love, loneliness, death, religion and so much more.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly for many reasons. From the very first word to the very last paragraph, I marveled at this author’s imagination. His inventive plot vividly hurls you inside the unhinged, unbalanced, unsettled mind.

Toltz’ narrative is explosively unexpected and I constantly found myself asking the question, “How on earth did he think of that?” Each unpredictable scheme was enlivening. It made reading this story a delight.

Imagination is only one of this author’s gifts — his second is his sense of humor. You will find clever, eccentric, absurdly laughable wit on every page. His prose is so comical, it borders dangerously on brilliance. I laughed out loud more times than I could count.

Finally, underneath this very appealing and exciting story is an honest voice that speaks about acceptance, unity and belonging.

What I didn’t like about his book was its length of 530 pages. Even though it’s a fantastic book, it’s difficult to find the time to dedicate to such an epic adventure. For this reason alone, I rate this book a 3 out of 5. However, for anyone with an appetite for lengthy fiction, I wholeheartedly give this book a rating of 4 out of 5 — it’s so enjoyable, you make time to read it.

Find out more about the Man Booker prize at www.themanbookerprize.com.

• Reviewer Dina Parker would like to hear from you! Send her your reading tips, hints and comments at dinaparker@centurytel.net.

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