Steve Toltz’s Quicksand concerns the lifelong friendship of two Sydney-based oddballs: failed novelist turned police officer Liam Wilder and failed businessman Aldo Benjamin. Liam has struggled with subject matter for his books – indeed, he only joins the police force in order to gain an insight into the mind of the cop who killed his sister, about whose death he has decided to write. Continually rescuing Aldo from his colleagues’ interrogations, Liam realises that his mercurial friend may in fact offer the ideal subject matter. Liam sets about detailing the unlikely traumas and disappointments that have left Aldo in his present state, ranting and paralysed in his mechanised wheelchair.
The result is a novel that skips between narrative forms and perspectives – we have Liam interviewing Aldo, Liam reminiscing about Aldo, and Aldo’s own direct testimony, which slips into fragmented, lunging lines of free verse in the novel’s centrepiece. Aldo finds himself humiliated and scapegoated, damaged psychologically and physically