Sunday, 23 August 2009
A Fraction of the Whole: Review
Fasting men survive , starving men die.
One of the many memorable phrases in this very enjoyable sprawling Oz family saga. Very well written in its turn of phrase - metaphor and simile (overdoes these a little - bit Blackadder-esque) and narrative structure - using monlogue, letter, journal and more conventional dialogue. It also has very strong characters.
Over 700 pages long - which I note is mentioned in several reviews and it could probably lose about 100 of them - gets a bit diverted in places.
Also very moving in its depiction of father -son relationship - speaking as both!
There is something missing from it though stopping it being a truly modern great. I am not sure what but think it is lacking a bit in context. Set in Australia it does try and make a comment on that society: obsession with sport, crime, Murdoch like characters, the link with Asia and asylum policy. Though there is only a passing reference to the Aboriginal issue - perhaps that is reflective of Oz society.
Yet I dont think it is fully developed - if you compare it with Franzen who explores dysfunctional families within a broader American context then it falls short. Some interesting philosophical arguments to.
So, very readable and a big achievement, Read it over a relative short space of time for book of this length - but think he may have a sharper novel within him.