Synopsis (from Amazon edited for spoilers)
Martin Dean spent his entire life analyzing absolutely everything; from the benefits of suicide to the virtues of strip clubs ; and passing on his self-taught knowledge to his son, Jasper. Jasper reflects on the man who raised him in intellectual captivity, and the irony is this: theirs was a great adventure. As he recollects the extraordinary events of his life, Jasper recounts a boyhood of outrageous schemes and shocking discoveries; about his infamous criminal uncle, his mysteriously absent mother, and Martin’s constant battle to leave his mark on the world. From the Australian bush to the cafes of Paris; from the highs of first love to the lows of failed ambition, this is an unforgettable, rollicking and deeply moving family story.
What to say about this book? I don’t think it’s really like anything I have read before. Sometimes you can almost believe it could be real, despite how absurd it is, a sort of strange enough to be true type thing. I guess that shows it’s well written, that Toltz managed to give Jasper, and his father a realistic voice. Most of the story was told through Jasper’s voice but at times through the voice of his father. While their voices were somewhat distinctive there were similarities which you would expect from people who had lived together for a long time. Initially I found the moments when Martin (the father) was speaking most interesting but after a while I came to like Jasper just as much (If like is the right word). Generally I’d say I enjoyed the book but I did find it tough going. At times it seemed to drift aimlessly and at these points I wasn’t really compelled to pick the book up, at other times it gripped me and I couldn’t pt it down. Maybe this shows an inconsistency in writing style but it did make it seem more realistic in a way as Jasper wasn’t a writer at all and Martin’s writing were only in the form of what I can only really call journals. Physically the book was tough going, a hardback, and a n unusually large one at that, over 700 pages and larger height wise than the average hardback (more like the size of a book in large print). It meant I could only read it at home, a little annoying as it meant I needed something else to read when I was out of the house just so I didn’t have to lug this book around. I also found the ending didn’t really fell so much like an ending as just a stop, there could be more to the story and no real conclusion was drawn.
Would I recommend it? Well if you are willing to persevere with the slower sections yes, but if you want something which will always grip you then this is probably not it.