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A Fraction of the Whole

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Jasper Dean, a twentysomething rotting in an Australian detention center, has plenty of time to reflect on the ”hideous odyssey” of his upbringing. His overbearing (and recently deceased) single dad hatched half-baked schemes that led the pair from a strip club to a maze-ridden house in the Australian bush to the jungles of Thailand. Jasper’s conflicted memories of his dad — told in rollicking, stream-of-consciousness prose — skitter through the novel’s 530 pages. But in Steve Toltz’s A Fraction of the Whole, sometimes Jasper is laugh-out-loud funny. But just as often, his recollections are too dense and long-winded to penetrate. B