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Ron Currie, Jr. – Everything Matters!

May 5, 2010

46. Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. (2009)

Length: 306 pages

Genre: Literary Fiction

Started: 22 April 2010
Finished: 25 April 2010

Where did it come from? Christmas present from a good friend.
Why do I have it? I think he got the rec from NPR’s list of the five best books to share with your friends.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 21 December 2009.

We’ve got less than a
month until the world ends. What
are you going to do?

Summary: Junior Thibodeau has known, since he was in the womb, exactly how and when the world was going to end: by direct impact with a comet on June 15, 2010, at 3:44 p.m. – roughly thirty-six years after Junior’s birth. Junior has voices in his head that tell him as much, along with other prophetic tidbits of information, much more than any child can or should have to handle. But, despite knowing that he’ll never see his thirty-seventh birthday, Junior goes through life, coping as best he can with his cocaine-addict-turned-pro-ballplayer brother, his overprotective and alcoholic mother, his distant and ill father, and Amy, his childhood sweetheart and the love of his life. Junior is unique, but for all of his skills and knowledge, can he possibly prevent the inevitable? And if he can’t, what difference do any of his other choices make, anyways?

Review: This book started out with two things very much in its favor: a fantastic premise, and an author who is very skilled at crafting dryly funny, slightly bizarre, immediately recognizable characters, situations, and scenes. And yet, in the final analysis, I felt like Everything Matters! came out as less than the sum of its parts. I’m not saying it was bad, by any means. I definitely enjoyed reading it. But I wanted to love it, I should have loved it, and I just didn’t. I finished the book not sure whether I should be weeping or overcome with a serious case of the warmfuzzies, and while I can appreciate that the author may have left things somewhat ambiguous on purpose, it was still strange to come out of a book not only not sure what I should be feeling, but not even sure what I was feeling, other than a bit wrung-out.

I think part of my problem was that the novel never went in the direction I was expecting it to. In fact, it never went in the direction it was setting itself up to go. Like I said, the premise of the novel is fantastic: If you know for certain that the world is going to end, what’s the point of anything? Does anything you do matter, and why? And how? The book’s conclusion is given away in the exclamatory title, but I felt like we never really got to satisfactorily see Junior (or anyone else) wrestle with the issue, and never had a convincing bulk of evidence presented for either the “Everything” or “Nothing” side of the argument. Instead, it felt like the novel’s focus on its postmodern, slightly wacky, multiple POV slice-of-life vignettes kept it from ever fully engaging with the issues it wanted so badly to raise. It’s well-written, and interesting enough in its own right, it’s just not the story I thought I would be getting.

Despite all that, however, I still think this one is worth the read. Everything Matters! is one of those special cases – like Keith Donohue’s The Stolen Child – where the premise is so interesting that I’m willing to overlook the flaws in the handling of the story in favor of the thought-provoking questions that it raises. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Worth reading for the concept, and probably worth reading for the story as well – just don’t expect them to always to match up.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: The Book Catapult, Literary License
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: First, enjoy this time!

Cover Thoughts: I’ve been liking a lot of covers recently, but this one takes the cake. It is Fantastic. I would hang a print of this painting on my wall in a heartbeat. It’s called “Sleeping Separately”, by Amy Bennett. (I honestly didn’t notice the person in the sleeping bag on the lawn until I read the title… but I still love it.) It also fits the book brilliantly. (The Book Design Review agrees with me.)

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 38: “Just me and the raspberry horns and the tourtiere pies and my cigarette going in the ashtray near the back sink.” – a French Canadian, pastry-covered pie containing minced pork or other chopped meat and various chopped vegetables.
    .
12 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2010 6:12 am

    I had a similar experience when I read ‘The Rapture’ by Liz Jensen, also an apocolyptic novel.
    However, unlike ‘Everything Matters’ where you found that it was completely different to how you had expected it to be in a negative way, ‘The Rapture’ was a plesantly different.
    So sometimes, novels with an unexpected plot can give both good and bad surprises for the reader.

    • May 12, 2010 10:04 am

      Karen – I don’t mind an unexpected plot, but in this case the book made every hint that it was going to go one direction then suddenly veered off and went another.

      • May 12, 2010 10:14 am

        That then tells you, that maybe the writer wasn’t even sure where the book was going!

      • May 12, 2010 10:16 am

        Entirely possible!

  2. May 5, 2010 9:00 am

    Well, if nothing else, you’ve made me curious about the book. I don’t think I’ll run out to buy it, but if it happens to fall into my lap, I’ll give it a try.

    • May 12, 2010 10:05 am

      bermudaonion – I’d say that’s probably an appropriate response.

  3. May 5, 2010 10:22 am

    A good premise can carry a book through a lot of flaws for me, too. One problem I often encounter with a high-concept book like this is that it begins strong, and then the author isn’t sure where to take it from there. The ends frequently fail to live up to the beginnings.

    • May 12, 2010 10:06 am

      Jenny – In this case, the actual end was pretty good, but it was the middle that didn’t do what I thought it was going to.

  4. May 7, 2010 4:20 pm

    I read some good reviews of this book awhile ago. I think the premise sounds awesome, enough to make we want to read it even if, as you say, it’s not quite as great as it could be.

    • May 12, 2010 10:07 am

      Kim – It’s one of those books that the book itself is not the best thing I’ve ever read, but I love how much it makes me think and want to talk about it.

  5. May 13, 2010 5:26 pm

    I’m intrigued. You’ve convinced me to try it.

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  1. The Book Pirate » Blog Archive » Book Review: Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr.

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