A daring, brilliant work by one of our most original and fearless novelists.
'Why should I let you write about me?'
'Because you'll inspire people. To count their blessings.'
Aldo Benjamin, relentlessly unlucky in every aspect of life, has always faced the future with despair and optimism in equal measure. His latest misfortune, however, may finally be his undoing. There's still hope, but not for Aldo.
His mate Liam hasn't been faring much better - a failed writer with a rocky marriage and a dangerous job he never wanted - until he finds inspiration in Aldo's exponential disasters. What begins as an attempt to document these improbable but inevitable experiences spirals into a profound exploration of fate, fear and friendship.
Anarchically funny and wildly entertaining, Quicksand is a subversive portrait of 21st-century society in all its hypocrisy and absurdity, an exquisite interpretation of suffering and resilience, and a powerful story about taking risks and finding inspiration.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Likely to be the most hilarious book I'll ever read about emotional dysfunction, failure and the death wish. * suzifeay.com * A new masterpiece that is at once an old-fashioned page-turner, a tragicomic lament for the digital age, and an aching howl at the intractable existential dilemmas of our poor species. Quicksand is the sort of book that refuses to sleep between its covers on your nightstand. * Stefan Merrill Block * What would happen if some genius were able to unite the high-wattage storytelling exuberance of Kurt Vonnegut, the combustive glee of Walt Whitman, and the reality-smashing despair of Franz Kafka? Impossibly, Steve Toltz has done just that, turning out a new masterpiece that is at once an old-fashioned page-turner, a tragicomic lament for the digital age, and an aching howl at the intractable existential dilemmas of our poor species. Quicksand is the sort of book that refuses to sleep between its covers on your nightstand; it is its own blazing, intricate, hysterically surreal universe, big and brilliant enough to swallow your own. * Stefan Merrill Block, bestselling author of The Story of Forgetting and The Storm at the Door * Steve Toltz's Quicksand proves to be the cherry on the cake - a beguiling novel that confounds and astonishes in equal measure, often on the same page...Part Chuck Palahniuk, part David Foster Wallace,...Quicksand has a thousand dazzling throwaway moments of brilliance.... A tour de force. * Australian Book Review * Brilliant, so fizzing with lucidity and comedy and horror and hard-nosed empathy... There is a superfluity of smarts on display. Characters back talk each other like Chinese table tennis champions; apercus fly like sparks from the angle-grinder of the authorial imagination. Still, there is a feeling edge to all this dazzle, a sense that the torrential flow of wit is a cover for fear of the void....The real parent of 2008's A Fraction of the Whole and this new work is Saul Bellow...[Like] Philip Roth at his angriest and funniest[,] Quicksand is a similarly high-octane read; it recalls and updates the tradition of Jewish-American fiction in the same spirit as Gary Shteyngart or Jonathan Safran Foer....[Aldo Benjamin] is one of those rare characters who will live on in our collective literary imagination. * The Saturday Paper (Australia) * There are more lines of genius on one page of Quicksand than in the entirety of many very respectable novels. * Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed * Quicksand crackles with such intensity it made me turn the pages with a harder snap, lean closer, want to gnaw the words. This is a novel of sneak-attack seriousness, so funny it fools you into letting down your guard-then knocks you upside the head with intense intelligence, probing thought, raw pain. For all the wit and wisdom in this book, all the pleasures contained in its raucous, furious, fearless pursuit of truths, the greatest thrill comes when it strikes you that you've never read anything quite like it before, that you just might have stumbled-startlingly, unsettlingly-on something close to genius in the writing of Steve Toltz. * Josh Weil, author of The Great Glass Sea * Steve Toltz's Quicksand - narrated by Aldo and Liam, two epic Aussie screw-ups and lifelong best friends - is one of the smartest, funniest, angriest novels I have ever read. But it's also a surprisingly touching meditation on friendship and family, on art and God, on law-breaking and law enforcement.. A brilliant piece of fiction, from a novelist who so clearly sees the outsized pleasures and terrors of our troubled time. * Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England and (most recently), The Happiest People in the World * Steve Toltz is a verbal magician and lunatic storyteller. Quicksand is the work of a writer in full command of his many outsized gifts, not least of which is his humanity. * Teddy Wayne, Whiting Award-winning author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine * Toltz throws in Raymond Chandler-style descriptions on every page of his densely wrought tale. Aldo, with his jumpy speech and unexpected thought patterns, offers the perfect vessel for Toltz's most hyperactive passages, a scatter-gun of observations and aphorisms, like a demented form of stand-up comedy. It takes a very good writer to pull off this style but Toltz is superbly capable. Quicksand may be a cry for help, but it's also a scream of triumph. * Literary Review * For risque humour and razor-sharp wit, look no further . . . Think John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. * <i>The Times</i> Summer Reads * Trust me, it's very funny... every page has zingers that you'll want to read to other people. Steve Toltz is touched by comic genius. * Robbie Millen, <i>The Sunday Times</i> Summer Reading Choices * Energetic and crackling with a fevered inventiveness * Daily Telegraph * If anything can go wrong, it will - and it inevitably does so in the vicinity of Aldo Benjamin, Quicksand's luckless protagonist. Toltz's first novel, A Fraction of the Whole, was shortlisted for the Booker in 2008; his funny, dark, formidable follow-up is a garrulous meditation on fate, religion and male misbehaviour. * <i>Financial Times</i> * Toltz is incapable of writing a dull sentence. * Daily Mail * Highly original, entertaining and almost impossible to summarize, this is a high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled, frenetic tour de force of sustained brilliance. There is with, laugh-out-loud humour and linguistic dexterity on almost every page. * Mail on Sunday * A relentlessly garrulous tragicomic saga about friendship, failure, creativity and endurance that is both brilliant and exhausting... Even in a book overflowing with solipsists and monomaniacs, would-be artists and theories about art, it remains a creative force to be reckoned with. * Guardian * A book shot through with mordant humour and sizzling inventiveness.... In Aldo, Toltz has created a magnificent character. * Financial Times * Leaves you almost breathless. There is more heart, and joy and compassion and hard-earned wisdom in Quicksand than seems possible for a single novel; it is life, literature at its fullest. * Dinaw Mengestu, winner of the Guardian First Book Award * Toltz is clearly talented, with a vivid satirical intelligence... tremendous. * The Sunday Times * Quicksand is, if anything, even more hysterically funny [than A Fraction of the Whole] and quite, quite horrific . . . Linguistically, Toltz manages to find the perfect if unlikely word or phrase faultlessly. It is very rare for me to laugh on almost every page of a book; it is even rarer for that to be accompanied by exquisite melancholy. Toltz is writing like very few other authors: he seems like an Antipodean Thomas Bernhard in his unsparing, agonising comedies. I hope it is not seven years until his next novel. * Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday * The funniest novel I've read in the last 12 months . . . Genuinely moving. * The Times * The energy, the hairpin turns, the narrative crashes, the stomach churning ascents and trashed taboos: what a joy to surrender oneself to a writer of such prodigious talent. * Peter Carey, twice Man Booker Prize-winner *