Quicksand by Steve Toltz

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Quicksand by Steve Toltz

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Quicksand is the second novel by Steve Toltz, who found major success with his first book, A Fraction of the Whole. A funny, moving and original look at a friendship, Quicksand is an entertaining read, although the constant quips overpower the characters for much of the novel.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: May 2015
Publisher: Sceptre
ISBN: 978-1473606050

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Aldo and Liam have been friends since childhood. One, a criminal - the other, a once reluctant police officer and struggling writer. As Liam interviews Aldo about his life, we learn all about the history between the two men, and of the lives that have led them to this point.

Steve Toltz had huge success with his first novel A Fraction of the Whole back in 2008, a funny, generation-spanning novel about a family in Australia. Many have no doubt been eagerly awaiting the publication of Quicksand, a novel that, instead of focusing on a whole family, instead centres itself around two men.

With humour, emotion and intricate writing, this is a good novel - one that felt overlong and slightly slow at times, but was nonetheless a satisfying read.

With A Fraction of the Whole, Toltz created a two strong lead characters who, whilst sometimes unlikeable, and often stumbling through life, were easy to root for, and playing them both off against each other as unreliable narrators, made for entertaining and exciting reading.

Aldo and Liam on the other hand, whilst still likeable, can often be tricky to root for, their lives endless cycles of failures that, after a while, become more depressing than entertaining. In addition, the story really takes a backseat to the dialogue, and Toltz seems determined to make his characters spout constantly quotable witticisms - meaning that they start to feel less like characters, and more like mouthpieces for little snippets of Tolt'z personality.

When the characters manage to break through this though - they can prove compelling, and I particularly enjoyed Stella, whenever she appeared.

In truth, I felt like Quicksand was a funny, and intelligent book, that never chooses to delve particularly deeply into the psyche of its characters, instead choosing to hover around them, conveying their humour, but writing about their lives with such clever and intricate writing that it becomes genuinely difficult to get to know or like any of the characters, as any moments of revelation are quickly offset with a witty aside or quotable phrase.

As such, I found it very hard to get invested or drawn in by Quicksand, and as a result have found it quite a tricky one to review.

I imagine fans of A Fraction of the Whole may be somewhat divided by Quicksand - I certainly was. Toltz is an immensely talented writer, and I'd love to see him write with a little more tenderness, and a little less humour.

Many thanks to the publishers for sending us a copy

For another read about real, genuine people- Jonathan Lethem manages to balance humour and characterisation perfectly. Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem is a remarkable example of that.

Buy Quicksand by Steve Toltz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Quicksand by Steve Toltz at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Quicksand by Steve Toltz at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Quicksand by Steve Toltz at Amazon.com.


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