If you knew when the world was going to end, what would you do with that knowledge? That is the premise of Ron Currie’s new book Everything Matters!. Currie, the author of God is Dead, brings us another captivating tome that will present Niche like philosophical questions to haunt you long after the last page. With a quick narrative, multiple narrators, and a keen ear for stream of conscience technique, this is one book you shouldn’t miss this summer.
Junior is born with the knowledge that the world will end in his thirties. He is gifted or cursed with a voice inside his head that helps him make decisions because of the burden. He is a gifted child of intelligence who longs for the connections of relationships that again and again fail to make him content. He looks for meaning in his world and desires to find it before the world is destroyed. Currie masterly interweaves the stories of his nuclear family: a pro baseball player brother, a Vietnam Veteran father, and alcoholic mother. The voice inside of Junior’s head helps him gain insight into each personality, but like the knowledge of the earth’s demise, he is unable to use that knowledge to prevent suffering or the inevitable outcome of pain and loss in relationships made by time. Most of the plot centers on Junior’s self destruction as he hurtles to find meaning in an abused girl he has hopelessly fallen in love with. The plot offers many surprises, multiple perspectives, creativity and heavy topics that keep the book from slowing down. What Currie gives up in character development and setting is compensated for his thematic structure and interesting, though not necessarily reality, plot developments.
What are we to do with our talent? Do we owe anything for having it? Is it ours to dispense or share with the world? For most of the book, Currie paints a portrait of a man who is unable to deal with the talent and the crushing impact it has on the relationships with his family. It is not until he lets go of his secrets and lives outside of the voice, does he become aware of the importance of his presence in the world. As the book concludes its three hundred odd pages, Junior, like most of us as we get older, realizes that it is not his ability to know or do that makes us happy, but the ability to love and accept our fates that finally frees us. The road is winding and unexpected, and an enjoyable one to take and think on as your read.
The final question the book proposes is if the world was being destroyed, would you leave if given the opportunity? Now you would start out in a colony with some of your loved ones who decided to take the chance, but basically you would be taken a life of hardship on for your progeny. Are you attached to this planet so much that you would not leave it and accept your fate with it? The question overwhelms the end of the book and the ending is one that the reader will not forget.
Currie displays a keen sensitivity for drug and alcohol abuse and allows his characters redemption. He is a young writer who tackles heavy subjects with optimism not inherent in the world, but in the human spirit to forgive and begin again. Everything Matters! will open your eyes to the finality of our decisions but never stop making you believe that we, others and the world might change if given the opportunity.