Date published: Extra Content. Never again will you bear so little responsibilityfor your own survival. Soon you will have to take in food and disposeof your own waste, learn the difference between night and day and acquirethe skill of sleeping. You will need to strengthen the muscles necessaryto sustain high—volume keening for long intervals. You will haveto master the involuntary coos and facial twitches which are the foundationof infantile cuteness, to ensure that those charged with caringfor you continue to provide food and clean linen. You will need to flexyour arms and legs, loll your head to strengthen the neck, crawl, staggerto your feet, then walk.
Soon after you must learn to run, share,swing a bat and hold a pencil, love, weep, read, tie your shoelaces, bathe,and die. There is much to learn and do, and little time; suffice it to saythat you should be aware of the trials ahead so that you may appreciatethe effortless liquid dream of gestation while it occurs, rather thanonly in hindsight. For now, all you need to do is grow. There is one significant exception to this.
You may have noticed thatyou share the womb with other objects. The most obvious and importantof these is the fleshy tether attached to your abdomen, known asthe umbilical cord. It is, quite literally, your lifeline, providing blood,nutrients, and vital antibodies, among other things. Already it haswrapped twice around your neck, and while this may not seem to you,who does not yet breathe, to be particularly dangerous or untoward, itcan imperil your entry into the world. We will not lie—it could killyou. Now, be calm.
You should remain as still as possible throughoutthe rest of your gestation. While this will do nothing about the entanglementsalready constricting your neck, it will go a long way towardpreventing further looping or other complications—vasa previa, knots,cysts, hematoma. Any of these problems, by itself, is not particularlydangerous, but two or more occurring together can be big trouble, soyou should maintain perpetual vigilance against the many temptationsto move. Of course, there are some who would argue that it is unfairto ask a fetus to exercise impulse control.
You, however, would do wellto avoid those who complain about life's unfairness, and instead get ahead start on building self—restraint. Light and noise present the toughest challenge to your resolve toremain still. They come to you through your mother's abdomen, andyou feel an impetus to move toward them, to stir the viscous bath ofamniotic fluid with tiny fingers and toes in an effort to absorb thewarmth of sunlight, or hear Carly Simon trill.
The urge to move isnatural and understandable. As will be the case throughout your life,no matter how long or brief, the choice is, in the end, yours. Simplybear in mind that most every choice will have consequences, and in thisinstance those consequences would likely be quite grave. We should mentionthat she is prone to unreasonable anxiety and nervous tension, minordisorders that have several underlying causes, not the least of which isthe verbal and physical abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of herfather.
This is why she pokes at you and spends hours with a transistorradio pressed against her belly, trying to bait you into moving. Despitethe fact that her abdomen continues to grow, she wakes one night convincedyou'll be born an ashen husk, your fingers hooked forever intolifeless little claws.
With this image lodged in her mind's eye she weeps,her hands laced together in a protective hugging posture under theswell of her belly. Now, a boy's aversion to upsetting his mother isamong the more primal and tenacious instincts, and so you suffer analmost irresistibly powerful urge to kick and twirl, to give unmistakableevidence of your life, to turn your mother's sobs to relieved andslightly embarrassed little hiccups of laughter. Do not yield to this instinct,or you will put your life at risk. Protecting yourself now meansyou'll have many years ahead with which to repay her grief.
Besides,you can rest assured that this is not the last time you will make yourmother cry. Eventually your father's hands, along with two unscheduled visitsto the obstetrician for ultrasound and fetal monitor, soothe your mother's fears to a level she finds tolerable, and she wraps the transistor inits power cord and returns it to the closet, and stops staring for longsilent hours at the television.
To you his advances areterrifying. You hear him seeking entry with his tongue and other partsof his body, and your instinct is to recoil, which is perfectly normal—the perception of one's father as an omnipotent predator of great physicalstrength serves a vital function for most boys, and usually persistswell into adulthood, though paradoxically it does not seem to precludethe desperate striving after his love and approval. You try to hold fast,but a stronger, more immediate impulse toward self—preservation takeshold, and you kick against the uterine wall, pushing away from thesniffing and growling at the entrance to your home, and as you driftslowly up the umbilical cord draws tighter around your throat, and aknot forms.
Your mother, feeling you stir for the first time in twomonths, smiles and invites your father in, prodding him with the heelsof her feet. They have sex, a rough pulsing in your warm world likethe addition of a third heartbeat, and in that moment when you hearyour mother moan you gain the knowledge of betrayal, what it meansbut also how it feels, and though it of course does not feel good youshouldn't be discouraged; we can tell you that no matter how long youlive, no matter how mature or philosophical you may grow to be, almostall sudden enlightenment will feel precisely this way, like a bootin the stomach, like acid on your tongue, and the sooner you accept thisthe better off you'll be.
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In fact, you should be glad—at your age, to haveunderstood and assimilated an abstract yet acutely painful concept suchas betrayal is, in a word, prodigious. It indicates you have a better thanaverage chance to succeed at the task for which you have been chosen. With the development of a knot,the umbilical cord will not tolerate any more tension. You must stayput. Having felt you move, from here on your mother will find everyexcuse to have sex, and you will have to suffer in absolute stillness. Your life depends on it. And since the likelihoodthat she will be the only home you'll ever know has increasedexponentially, you should make an effort, when not cowering fromyour father's incursions, to enjoy every moment here.
Slowly you roll one last time, until you are fully inverted and in positionto emerge from the womb. As a bonus, your father begins to findyour mother less and less sexually appealing. It's not your mother'ssize that repulses him, but rather her distended navel, which juts everlonger from her belly like a severed finger regenerating itself.
He triesnot to look at it but inevitably can't help himself, and when the waveof disgust comes over him he feels ashamed and emasculated all at once,though of course he would not admit this even if he could. Thusyou are left in peace to gather your strength, every ounce of which youwill need, especially since, as we'd feared, the obstetrician did not detectthe knot in your umbilical cord.
Had the knot been noticed, he almostcertainly would have opted for a cesarean delivery, therebyreducing the danger to both you and your mother. As it stands, with avaginal delivery planned, things are likely to be hard, protracted, andquite dangerous. Your mother knows in the morning; she has sleptfitfully, and as she rises and waddles to the bathroom she feels themilder contractions begin like seismic tremors in the small of her back. You know, too. You sense the swish and shift and though you can't haveany idea yet what it means, you're still not sure that you like it.
Forone thing, your mother begins, by and by, to scream, and you're certainyou don't like that, trapped as you are inside the amphitheater ofher belly. For another, the shift portion of the swish and shift causesyour umbilical cord to draw even tighter, spurring your first experiencewith physical pain. Your mother's screams rise an octave, and the warmfluid in which you have spent your entire life flushes away, replacedby slick undulating walls equal to the fluid in warmth but hard, insistent,pressing from all sides, pushing you down, down, inexorably downand out of your home forever, and now you are certain you don't likethis at all because no one likes change unless it is from something badto something good, and besides the umbilical knot and loops have cutthe flow of blood both from your placenta and to your brain, bad troubleindeed.
Your heart slows, and the pinprick of consciousness growshazy, fading from red to pink to gray. Something's wrong, your motherwails to the doctor and nurses. They ignore her; they are the experts,after all, they have done this a thousand times, and your mother is inpain and exhausted and probably not thinking right and should leaveit to them. Your father tries to quiet her with a kiss, his lips and anyreal comfort they might offer trapped behind the minutely porous shellof a surgical mask.
The delivery team goes on ignoring your mother'spleas until the image of you, stillborn, stiff and blue and twisted, returnsto her, and she screams at them loud and long enough to be heardtwo floors down, in Oncology. At the same moment the fetal heartmonitor sounds a frantic alarm, and its display of your pulse—dangerouslylow and still dropping—begins to flash. There is a great and suddenhustle. Everything Matters! EST, killing all people on the planet and ending the world as we know it. Thus begins Ron Currie, Jr. While Junior wanders through life in an existential and often alcoholic haze, his story, and that of his family and closest friends, unfolds through ever-shifting points-of-view, each character contributing new perspectives and different truths to create a rich, many-layered story.
The quite brilliant final section of this novel demonstrates how everything we do does, in fact, matter and, at the same time as revealed in one, final, bizarre plot twist , does not make a damn bit of difference. What did he have to look forward to but melting ice caps, tsunamis, wild fires, genocide, floods, hurricanes, drought, war, war, war, serial killers, crazed gunmen in schools, bullies, etc. Now that I am a parent, I realize I can't protect him from these things. I can only protect him from what I can control, and even then I am often left powerless.
We will do as we wish I worried through the entirety of my pregnancy. We will do as we wish, we humans. Ron Currie's daring, humorous, poignant, heart-wrenching, and, ultimately, joyful second novel, Everything Matters! Most importantly, though, it follows the life of Junior, who not only knows how he will end, but knows how the world will end as well. It is from there, his foreknowledge, that we witness the choices he makes in his life--when does he choose to give up and when does he choose to push beyond his limits.
When does he choose to live and accept all of the beauty that life has to offer him even though he knows it will one day be taken away. Yes, on the surface this is a book about mass destruction, but it's not about hopelessness. Rather, it's about what we wake up and choose to do each day--put one foot ahead of the other and move forward even though we know that one day we will cease to be. We are all brave to live, to choose to live. Some books you read to be entertained, others to learn something, and some you read to change your life. I finished it just as my two-year-old was waking up from his nap.
I was crying as I picked him up from his crib, not because I was sad, but because I was so happy and grateful that he was alive in this beautiful world where everything matters. View 1 comment. Jul 27, Noah Nichols rated it did not like it Shelves: digitally-honed , library-loaned.
I hated it. This was yet another novel that had an exceptional premise, but it just didn't deliver on any creative front for me. Come to think of it, this would be a perfect doubleheader of torture alongside the bloated Welcome to Night Vale. That is, if you're a masochist. And the deadpan narration throughout EM! I was terribly bored the entire time and only completed it since I foolishly enacted a do-not-DNF rule on Everything Matters! I was terribly bored the entire time and only completed it since I foolishly enacted a do-not-DNF rule on myself for this calendar year.
The bright side is that it's now over, and I can move on to something much better—hopefully! Baseball isn't all that interesting Just sayin' typing. May 18, Jennie rated it really liked it.
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I feel like I really did a disservice to this book by not reviewing it immediately after I finished it. This was my first foray into Ron Currie Jr. Seriously, read this book. Bummer for him, right? The book follows him throughout his entire life as he struggles with this knowledge and tries to come to terms with it, all on his own for the most part , and how this knowledge affects who he is, who he will become, and his relationship with his family, friends, and other assorted loved ones.
This book is more than an end of the world novel.
Everything Matters!: A Novel (Paperback)
I grew exceedingly attached to everyone the story introduced me to. While Junior is the main focus, Currie gives little glimpses into the other characters that make the entire thing all the more heartbreaking. This would be like medium threat level midnight in that department, but I never noticed because of how caught up I was in the story, which is a huge testament to the writing.
But I will say again, please check out this novel.
I was instantly hooked, which hardly ever happens, and remained enthralled as I read it, having absolutely no idea where the story was going to go, or even where I WANTED it to go. And as I finished the book, my chest getting heavier as I got closer to the end, I was completely satisfied, though heartbroken. I love it when a book breaks my heart. This will be one I read again, which is really the highest praise I can offer.
Jun 08, Daniel Villines rated it did not like it. For a book to be enjoyable, the plot needs to have a certain amount of continuity in its progression. Things do not just happen in real life and the art of writing should imitate life. The lack of continuity is a significant problem with Everything Matters! The constantly shifting perspective from which the story is assembled hinders the development of characters and dices up the flow of time. The resulting experience was like watching a play comprised of multiple acts and intermissions. With ea For a book to be enjoyable, the plot needs to have a certain amount of continuity in its progression.
With each chapter, the stage lights would come on and then fade out, and every act opened with a new set. The story itself, when you are able to approach it during some of the longer chapters, is another rendition of the end of the world. These scenes did nothing to answer the philosophical question that this book pretends to ask: what matters? And while it may be cute to respond with Everything Matters!
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In fact, nothing matters when Ron Currie fails to make his readers care. Nov 18, Deborah Moulton rated it liked it. Some good writing and an interesting experiment, but the book ultimately fails.
The book begins with the premise that a man, from in utero forward, knows the exact moment and cause of the end of human life on earth. Talked to constantly by an inner voice, his life is informed by this ongoing chatterbox. It's not a conversation since he never talks back or engages with the voice. It's less "God" or alien and more the on-going "monkey mind" we all have: hopping around, chastising us about our choi Some good writing and an interesting experiment, but the book ultimately fails.
It's less "God" or alien and more the on-going "monkey mind" we all have: hopping around, chastising us about our choices as we make them, reminding us of every self-destructive tendency, warning us of consequences. This time he choses to keep his essential nature and "gift" to himself and not intervene in saving human kind. His payoff is he gets to live normally with his childhood sweetheart turned wife, child, and family. A world in which "everything matters," but little is accomplished.
The novel is really a re-tread of an old moral argument: will you chose personal fulfillment in a macro worled of your genius or gift at any cost? Or will you choose a more modest existence that leaves you fully engaged in a nuclear family in a micro world , but ignore your gift and its contributions to greater humanity?
This has always been a false choice. There is significant geography that exists between "nothing matters" and "everything matters. Jun 02, Justin Tappan rated it really liked it. I loved this book. The premise is unique, and as the story unfolds you wonder, "Where is he going with this?
I didn't expect them, anyway. The characters are well fleshed-out and Currie brings them to life with remarkable ease. The prose is succinct. The story lags a tiny bit in the middle, but then most novels do, and the lag is only a small, temporary hiccup. At no time do they threaten to overwhelm the story. I'm a sucker for a good, metaphysical yarn about the nature of reality and our existence. The ending was simultaneously gut-wrenching and beautiful, laying bare the puzzle that is human existence. Oct 05, Cindy rated it it was amazing.
Oh boy! Have tissues at the ready. So, you can find the summary easily enough. A fetus, in utero, learns of the world's impending end, from some outside unknown source, and has to live his life with this knowledge. I don't want to reveal much more but, suffice it to say, it's unique in its premise and intriguing. I loved it. The book is written in two formats-one in the omniscent third person-religious people may believe it's God or a god I thought it was some alien life form -and the other is th Oh boy!
The book is written in two formats-one in the omniscent third person-religious people may believe it's God or a god I thought it was some alien life form -and the other is this first person narrative, alternating between various characters. All is told chronologically.
Everything Matters!: A Novel
I loved the style. It kept the novel moving and felt unique. However, I won't lie. I did find some passages tedious, wishing to move on to find out what happened to other characters. It's difficult to accept our mortality but, given that we can't change it, we have to accept and enjoy this one life. This book makes sure you get this reminder if you needed one. It was really emotional and difficult for me to read the cancer passages my grandfather and uncle passed away from cancer but it was life, the circle of it.
Anyway, my favorite lines: "Pick a self. Any self. Everything matters not in spite of the end of you and all that you love, but because of it. Everythying is all you've got So you were wise to welcome Everything, the good and the bad alike, and cling to it all. Gather it in. Seek the meaning in sorrow and don't ever ever turn away, not once, from here until the end. Because it is all the same, it is all unfathomable, and it is all infinitely preferable to the one dreadful alternative.
This is the key, you have learned-to relinquish control, to relinquish the desire for control. You wish they [people] understood that there is joy in this fact, greater joy and love in just this one last moment than they experienced in the entirety of their lives Because even in this last moment there is still Everything, whole galaxies and eons, the sum total of every experience across time Everything ends, and Everything matters. This book spoke to me for many reasons, one of which happens to be my unyielding fascination with inevitable trauma, both in real life and in fiction.
What really gets me emotional and endeared to an idea, a story, a way of life are the endings, the last times, the finality of people, places, things. Endings are always traumatic for me and I can't always explain why, and obviously this book is about the end of the Earth so I was destined to be traumatized, Everything ends, and Everything matters.
Endings are always traumatic for me and I can't always explain why, and obviously this book is about the end of the Earth so I was destined to be traumatized, and there were definitely moments where I was. But even with as much pain as there is in endings, there deep inside that pain lingers an importance and purpose that I find that keeps me coming back to be traumatized all over again. What I learn about the world, the craft, and myself. How happy it makes me that I am able to feel that sad. Because to feel truly sad you first have to feel truly happy, and I'll be damned if that isn't the most beautiful thing there is.
Jan 05, Tyler Harrington rated it did not like it. I feel like the author is trying to say something really meaningful here about living life to its fullest and resigning yourself to your fate rather than moaning about the shitty hand life has dealt you or whatever. But it all falls apart when he introduces time travel, nonsensical conspiracy theory, terrorist plots, an unhealthy obsession with baseball, and all sorts of totally groan-worthy nonsensical plot twists. Every character in the book is not just talented and amazing, they are THE MOST I feel like the author is trying to say something really meaningful here about living life to its fullest and resigning yourself to your fate rather than moaning about the shitty hand life has dealt you or whatever.
The brother is the most amazing baseball player, the main character is the smartest person, the dad is just an all around great guy who has anger issues, but it only shows up when he's mad at someone we root for him to beat up. Every character has to have some extreme trauma in their past.
The writing blurs the line between engaging and self-indulgent mess, and ultimately falls hard into the latter category. Seriously, at the halfway mark this book falls apart to such an extreme degree that it's like the author suddenly had a stroke or something. What a massive pile of garbage this book ends up being. Mar 12, Greg Zimmerman rated it really liked it. Ron Currie Jr. In it, scientists spot a meteor heading toward Earth, realize that death is imminent, and commence partying as if nothing matters anymore.
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But Currie takes a rather unconventional route toward trying to convince you that, even when you know you're going to die, everything in fact, DOES matter. When our protagonist, Junior Thibodeau, is born, a mysterious voice, which stays with him his entire lif Ron Currie Jr. When our protagonist, Junior Thibodeau, is born, a mysterious voice, which stays with him his entire life, informs him the exact moment the world will end. A comet will crash into the planet on June 15, at pm EST, approximately 36 years from the day he's born.
So Junior has to go through life trying to make meaning out of a seemingly purposeless existence, or as he says at a particularly low point of his adulthood, " In fact, it's always seemed a messy and heartbreaking and overall pointless affair. I kept hoping so, and that's why I couldn't stop reading. Look, death is a part of life, Currie would say.
We all know we're going to die. Whether we know exactly when doesn't matter. What does is that for life to fulfilling, to matter, we must find our own paths toward life's meaning. So, carpe diem! The story is told though a cadre of shifting narrators — Junior himself, his family and his girlfriend Amy, and the Voices Junior hears, which tell their sections to Junior "We should tell you at this point," eg. We see Junior come of age, struggle with alcoholism and heartbreak, and generally try to make meaning of his life.
The pleasures of this novel are two-fold: the characters and the writing.
The characters: Junior's brother, recovering from a teenage cocaine addiction, which rendered him, um, simple-minded, plays baseball for the Cubs. His mother is an alcoholic and his father a workaholic. And, addition to the fact that he hears the Voices, Junior himself is also the 4th smartest person on the planet, according to the Voices. But he's still a normal, easily recognizable dude, as are all these flawed-but-real characters.
Secondly, Currie is a fabulously talented, fun-to-read writer. At one point, writing about Junior and his classmates watching the Challenger explosion, he describes the booster rockets that " What an image! But beyond a sentence-by-sentence basis, the inventive structure of the novel — the different narrators, the omniscient Voices counting down section-by-section to doomsday — gives a well-rounded perspective on Junior and the events of the story.
The fact that other characters tell their own stories in the first person also lends a bit more realism to the novel, lest you're turned off by the narrative gimmick of the Voices telling us what's happening to Junior. And, finally, the structure works and is necessary because Junior is often so jilted and misanthropic that the multiple narrators bring much-needed reliability and trust to the story. They also provide some essential levity. If we only heard Junior's story, most readers would stop after page 75, depressed and frustrated. The only major problem I had with the book is that just after I understood the point, and was kind of in awe of Currie's writerly prowess and looking forward to a great, profound ending, Currie turns to a sort of silly narrative trick.
It made me wonder if Currie's editor didn't request another 50 or so pages to beef up the book a bit.