Reflections: Everything Matters!

Novels that reach into experimental territory require an author with a certain talent for persuasion. Readers become accustomed to the norms of fiction and can resent being pushed from their old ways, no matter how good the cause. When I began Everything Matters (2009), by Ron Currie Jr., I felt the narrative Luddite in me raise its head. Why are these paragraphs numbered? How effective is this omniscient narrator and why must he be so different from other omniscient narrators? Am I ready to be directed through a story by (my hypothesis) an alien? And then, the fundamental question, the bright line against which all experimental fiction should, in my view, be judged: will it all be worth it?

In the case of Everything Matters! the answer is a resounding yes. The story wins points for its inventive perspective and its believably fallible characters. The atypical narrative voice was required to make the story stick--to allow for the mixing of genres (post-modern domestic fiction and science fiction) without the final product being a malformed example of either one. When the genre of a novel cannot be determined but the story is compelling, there you have, in this reader's view, the height of the literary art. People like me read expressly to find these gems.

For those unwilling to be convinced to go out and request this book from their local library without a better sense of what it is about, read on. Everything Matters! poses the question, how would knowledge of an impending apocalypse shape a human's mind and development?  As a fetus, Junior Thibodeau receives advice and information from a mysterious source. When Junior makes his heavy way into the world, he learns that the trials of birth have been only the first of many challenges that are to come. Among the many bits of information conveyed to the infant is that the world will end in approximately 36 years. Saddled with this knowledge and an uncanny ability to know things beyond his years and experience, Junior must face the normal difficulties of growing up in America from the perspective of one who knows that nothing really matters. Or so he thinks. Things look a little different when the thirty six years have passed and he gets one last message from his communicative spirit.

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