Steve Toltz is the author of one of my favorite all time one hundred books, A Fraction of the Whole. It was also a Booker Prize Finalist so I wasn’t the only one who loved it.
He was born in Sydney and currently lives in New York. His latest book is called Quicksand. It’s a novel about two sad sack friends who are unhappy with their lives. They both try to make them better but one is only in interested in quick schemes and the other realizes he must join the real world and give up his dream of becoming a writer.
The frustrated writer is named Liam and his best friend is name Aldo. We have all had acquaintances like Liam and Aldo. That person going for their dreams in the world of music, art, or letters and finally comes to conclusion that maybe they weren’t made for that world.
It’s a hard to finally face the fact and being their friend can be stressful because you want your friends to succeed. The other type of friend is one who is always asking you for money for a project that is guaranteed to make money. You learn the hard way by getting burned once and then being a bit savvier the next time they ask for something. Quicksand tells the story of the fall and fall of Aldo and the rise and ultimate steadiness of a life as a policeman for Liam.
Liam always ends up bailing Aldo out of situations but Aldo rarely does the same for him. Aldo really can’t offer him anything of substance except the opportunity of allowing him to write the story of his tragic life. Mr. Toltz also gives his opinion on many things in life that bother him though these characters.
One of the major topics is the issue of religion and what we are on this earth for. When Aldo decides to finally takes control of his life in the ultimate way he even fails at that. This event is where we get about 200 pages of a court case that is turned into Liam’s novel.
Aldo admits at this point that he is just a failure at life. He tells him he can change the ending of the novel if he wants to. There is a crime that may or may have not been committed by Aldo. Aldo’s past eventually catches up with him in a way you won’t see coming but that is for you to find out. No reading, telling from me.
What makes Mr. Toltz such an exciting writer is he plays with language especially in a section of haikus that goes on for pages. When he goes back he describes an event in their lives that made them who they are. It’s not some pat story. It’s reality that could happen to any one of us. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. You hope it won’t happen to you but you know deep down that it could. You could fall into the quicksand of life and be buried with no way out, or Mr. Toltz would probably say “learn and live. “