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Books

If a novel about failure fails, does that make it a success?

With Quicksand, a flaccid carrier bag of a comic romp, I fear that Steve Toltz is trying to find out

6 June 2015

9:00 AM

6 June 2015

9:00 AM

Quicksand Steve Toltz

Sceptre, pp.448, £17.99, ISBN: 9781473606050

I must be an idiot for pointing out the failings of a novel that’s so screamingly, self-denouncingly about failure. Steve Toltz’s Quicksand is a nutty, occasionally hilarious, flaccid carrier bag of a comic romp, all dazzling one-liners and no comic paydirt. Like his debut novel, A Fraction of the Whole (about a misfit philosopher and his troubled son), it is narrated by a pair of human catastrophes: a New South Wales police constable, Liam Wilder, who’s a failed novelist; and his best friend, Aldo Benjamin, who’s a failed husband, entrepreneur, everything.

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