Hamish Hamilton, $32.99 pb, 435 pp, 9781926428680
Penguin Australia’s recent fiction output has been remarkable. Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals, Omar Musa’s Here Come the Dogs, and James Bradley’s Clade have all been idiosyncratic and inventive reads, bristling with energy and ideas. 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. Pity the unfortunate marketing department tasked with explaining this one. Part Chuck Palahniuk, part David Foster Wallace, part Thea Astley, and, really, so distinctly Toltzian, Quicksand chronicles the Sisyphean nightmare that is the life of one Aldo Benjamin, inventor, entrepreneur, and perennial loser.