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Everything Matters!: A Novel [Paperback]

Ron Currie Jr.
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 27 2010
"Startlingly talented . . . he survives the inevitable, apt comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut and writes in a tenderly mordant voice all his own." -Janet Maslin, The New York Times

In this novel rich in character, Junior Thibodeau grows up in rural Maine in a time of Atari, baseball cards, pop Catholicism, and cocaine. He also knows something no one else knows-neither his exalted parents, nor his baseball-savant brother, nor the love of his life (she doesn't believe him anyway): The world will end when he is thirty-six. While Junior searches for meaning in a doomed world, his loved ones tell an all-American family saga of fathers and sons, blinding romance, lost love, and reconciliation-culminating in one final triumph that reconfigures the universe. A tour de force of storytelling, Everything Matters! is a genre-bending potpourri of alternative history, sci-fi, and the great American tale in the tradition of John Irving and Margaret Atwood.


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Review

" Like Kurt Vonnegut, Currie understands that . . . humor is a more powerful salt than screed."
-San Francisco Chronicle

"Mr. Currie is a startlingly talented writer whose book will pay no heed to ordinary narrative conventions.... He survives the inevitable, apt comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut and writes in a tenderly mordant voice of his own.... Throughout the story there is the sheer delight of Mr. Currie's fresh, joltingly funny imagery.... Above all "Everything Matters!" radiates writerly confidence. The excitement that drives the reader from page to page is not about the characters. It's about seeing what Mr. Currie will try next."
--Janet Maslin, New York Times



--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Ron Currie Jr. is a native of Waterville, Maine, and whose fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Sun, Other Voices and Night Train. His stories have won prizes in The World’s Best Short Story competition and have been shortlisted for the Fish International Short Story award and Swink magazine’s Emerging Writer Award. God is Dead is his first novel.



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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! Aug. 24 2011
By Rachel
Format:Paperback
Once I picked this book up, I was unable to put it down until I had finished it. I enjoyed every aspect of the book from the story line, to the underlining themes I so often think about myself. The plot of the novel is simple, but the author is able to make every detail of the book relatable to the reader. The book is written from many of the characters view points which allows the reader to bond and connect with each individual character. The story is a combination science fiction, human nature, and philosophy.

If you are often someone who wonders is there really a point to anything at all? this is the book for you or if you just want a page turner with lots of twists and turns, this is also the book for you!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wow. Sept. 22 2009
By Schmadrian TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Now, I know that word tends to be my fall-back summation when I'm really, really gassed by a novel. Or, more specifically, by what a novelist has done. The 'oomph' the effort shows the writer possesses. It can be in the way they use words, they way they construct their tale...or it can be with the dynamic force they exert, constructing something that just cannot be denied.

That's what Ron Currie, Jr. has done with 'Everything Matters!' He made me mutter 'Wow'. He scored 'A hit! A palpable hit!' many times over, he impressed the Hell out of me, he made me aware of just how strong a writer's voice can be... He took me on an adventure with this tale, and throughout so very much of it, I was nodding...and grinning. (Sometimes, smirking.)

I'm biased: I like it when a writer grabs you by the throat and says 'Listen to what I have to tell you. I've a tale you don't want to miss, give me your full attention.' I love to be engaged by a writer. Or a musical performer. Or a director, an actor, an orator...a leader. Yes, I'm an opinionated S.O.B., but I also love being led. Especially when there's a fascinating destination. And the way the novel begins, the way Currie pins you up against the wall while he does what he does, you can't help but believe that the destination is, at the very least, going to be 'fascinating'. And *then* some.

That's not to say Currie gets it all right.

The multiple-part narrative points-of-view are interesting...but in the end, more an exercise in determination than anything else. (Albeit mostly completed successfully.) I didn't entirely like what he chose to focus on in the story; I felt there were some omissions and dropped balls. And the 'coda'? Well...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  96 reviews
115 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and remarkable novel June 8 2009
By Monica J. Kern - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Each and every one of us walks around with our own personal sword of Damocles dangling over our heads, which we do our darnedest to forget. This book tackles the question of how we would react if we could ignore no longer the looming end of our existence. The protagonist, Junior, is singled out (for unnamed reasons) to receive the wisdom and prognostications of some omniscient entity or entities (God? Aliens? We are never told). Chief among the information given to Junior is the news that the Earth would be struck and destroyed by a large comet 36 years after his birth. The novel follows the story of Junior's life from multiple perspectives: the omniscient entity, Junior's mother, brother, girlfriend, father (who is the book's most sympathetic and heroic figure), and Junior himself. Most of the plot centers around Junior's desperate fight against destiny.

Without spoiling crucial aspects of the plot, I will say that at first I wished it had ended differently. I kept thinking about the book, though, throughout the night, and the next day, and the day after. I returned to it and read the final few chapters again. And, slowly, I began to appreciate the point uttered quite bluntly by the author on the last page yet which remains so terribly, terribly hard to accept: "...that there is no escape and never was, that from the moment two cells combined to become one they were doomed."

The beauty of this novel is that the author somehow manages to convey both the depressing and inescapable reality of our doom as well as the simultaneous truth we are also given the gift of life and the unspeakable beauty and joy that entails--and where everything *does* matter.

I am a voracious reader and read several books a week, of all genres. Most books I enjoy in a somewhat detached and absent-minded way. A very few move me to tears and stay with me well after I have finished reading them-- Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," "The Book Thief," "The Lovely Bones," "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time," "White Noise," and "A Prayer for Owen Meany," to name a few. This novel is another such book for me.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short novel with big ideas June 13 2009
By Michael Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
What if we knew without a doubt when life on earth would end. Also, what if we knew that destruction would come during our lifetime; how would we cope? The author deals with these situations in a fascinating way, ultimately even showing alternative solutions. Page by page we discover how one man deals with precognition and how it alters his life relationships before the end. In painful detail, we see how Junior Thibodeau deals with the impact of the fatal prophecy. Also, the plot is expanded through the eyes of his family and his girlfriend. Ultimately, without weakening the ending, Junior is given an almost impossible choice.

If you are looking for an action packed sci-fi novel or a biblical "Left behind" type story this is not for you. If you are looking for a solid story about interesting people making their way through a complicated world this might be for you. As a work of fiction knowing the ending could become tedious, however; the author gives us numerous story developments that keep us entertained till the end.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars STAY, REVERENT MIGHT! June 18 2009
By Thomas E. O'Sullivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Right from the start EVERYTHING MATTERS! reminded me of Carlos Fuentes's CHRISTOPHER UNBORN (US 1989), both in scope and in tone. Granted, both novels have nothing to do with each other as far as plot or story (per say), but the general idea of a birth of portent, of a child waking into this world with the world literally on their shoulders, well, it's heady stuff and whereas CHRISTOPHER UNBORN ran with satire and black comedy, EVERYTHING MATTERS! aims for the sweet spot of the brain by asking the question...if you you knew that the world was going to end, for sure, since birth...well, would anything you do actually matter?

The answer will come as no surprise to those willing to simply answer the question at face value, but for those that need something more, then Ron Currie, Jr. has done a surprising job of balancing the scales between the inevitable and the journey getting there. Each chapter is a countdown of both the years left before humankind is destroyed and the events in Junior Thibodeau's life growing up as his family grows apart, dies off and eventually comes together for the final chapter - simple, but I was surprised how well Currie managed to put the mundane on the page and make it stick.

There are some truly boring moments which, in any other book, may have been struck through by an editor as wasteful, but here Currie is unafraid to explore corners in his characters lives we often ignore in our own...it comes across with a feeling of crawling under your bed, laying on your back and taking the time to actually EXAMINE everything that went into making the bed and seeing everything done to the bed by your body over the years.

It's like writing a field guide on dust buinnes or trying to see the soda in the can before you open it - there is this effortless "pressure" inside Currie's writing that makes you want to know more, that makes you want to look and "see" the life around you. This is rare for a novel and for some, it may read a little plain on the page, but, stick with it until the end and you will find your reward in more the effort than the story itself, which makes it a lot like life.

So, this big question is...is there really a big question? The title is front and center, EVERYTHING MATTERS!, it's not there for show, it's not really up for debate, it simply is and you can either chose to ignore it or accept it.

In the end, EVERYTHING MATTERS! is like your favorite movie - it's something you've seen a hundred times and the end is always the same, but what keeps you coming back isn't the structure, or the plot, or even the characters, but how it makes you feel - in short, it's "everything" that matters.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Possibilities June 9 2009
By Stephen T. Hopkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Part of the natural order is that all things come to an end. Whether we like the idea or not, each of us will one day die. Ron Currie, Jr.'s new novel, Everything Matters!, explores the theme that we face an infinite number of choices in life, and those choices become connected with others, and have consequences that make a real difference, hence the title. Protagonist Junior Thibodeau hears voices and has precognition from infancy. He dreams with clarity and specificity that Earth will be destroyed by a comet on June 15, 2010. Junior's considerable intelligence leads him in one set of choices to save the world. Along the way he realizes that there is no way to avoid the tragedies of living: both the good and the bad matter. Deliverance or salvation comes from living, not from avoiding life. We will all die, most of us just don't know the date, so why would knowing the date make a difference in how we choose to live? Junior chooses another possible set of choices, and that approach to life also has consequences, both good and bad. Everything Matters! could be considered a philosophical novel and would provide for lively discussion by any book club. Junior could be compared to Jesus, and the ensuing "what would Jesus do?" conversation would be animated. Currie's characters are thoughtfully constructed, and his prose includes fine dialogue, vivid descriptions and remarkable creativity. Everything Matters! is a joy to read, and left me thinking and reflecting long after I turned the last page.

Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a wonderful life July 13 2009
By Myfanwy Collins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I worried through the entirety of my pregnancy. How, I fretted, could I bring a child into this world? How could I protect him? 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, we humans.

Ron Currie's daring, humorous, poignant, heart-wrenching, and, ultimately, joyful second novel, Everything Matters! also addresses the question of how can one bring a child into a troubled world. 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. Everything Matters! was all of these books for me. 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.
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