When I just started reading A fraction of the whole, I was annoyed; the characters all seemed depressed overthinkers without a sense of humor. Why was I reading about their lives? Luckily, I found out soon enough.
When Martin, the main character, places a suggestion box in front of the town hall of (what the inhabitants themselves call) the least desirable place to live in New South Wales, it all changed for me. I began laughing out loud and haven't stopped until I finished the book. It is a great and highly recommended read! This review in the Guardian focuses on the brilliance of the fact that all good intentions seem to have disastrous results. I totally agree; the magic for me lies in the fact that in the end I actually sympathized with the characters.
Well, I will not talk about the plot here - click here for more on the plot and the author. Instead, I'll just quote some of what I think are the funniest passages in the book. Being an Asia lover, I especially enjoyed the character's observation of life in Thailand.
The second note Martin puts in his suggestion box reads: "For Jack Hill, the town barber. While it is admirable that you continue to cut our hair despite the crippling arthritis afflicting you, the result is that this town had more bad, uneven, and downright mysterious haircuts than any town in the world. You are turning us into freaks. Please - retire your vibrating scissors and hire an apprentice".
Page 575: "To get to Tim Lung's place we had to catch a long-tail boat down a dirty, foul-smelling canal. As we passed wooden canoes laden with multicoloured fruits and vegetables, I shielded my face from threatening splashes of murky water. My first impressions of Thailand were good, but I knew my immune system wasn't up for the challenge of its bacteria".
Conclusion: Read it!