Zoe Heller Everything You Know

ISBN 13: 9780141039992

Everything You Know

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9780141039992: Everything You Know

Everything You Know is the first novel from the bestselling author of Notes on a Scandal, Zoe Heller. The women in Willy Muller's life are trouble. His mother insists he eat tofu. His dopey girlfriend, Penny, wants him to overcome his personal space issues - while Karen, his other, even dopier, girlfriend, just wants more sex. Meanwhile, his oldest daughter, Sophie, wants him to finance her husband's drug habit. But it's his youngest daughter, Sadie, who's giving him the biggest headache. Just before committing suicide three months ago, she sent Willy her diaries. Poring over the record of her empty life, he feels pangs of something unexpected ...remorse. But isn't it a bit late for such sentimental guff? Set in London, Hollywood and Mexico, Everything You Know is a supremely witty take on love, death and the age-old battle of the sexes. 'Instantly ranks her among the most interesting and exciting of British writers' Will Self 'Sharp and feisty, a riotous read' Tatler 'Fast paced and finely timed, veering from tragedy to farce to back again ...full of brilliant observations' Harpers and Queen 'Seamlessly blends the sarcastic and the sincere, the comic and the tragic ...stylish and spirited' New York Times Zoe Heller is the author of three novels, Everything You Know, Notes on a Scandal, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003 and The Believers. The 2006 film adaptation of Notes on a Scandal, starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, received four Oscar nominations. She lives in New York.

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Review:

"I am bad. A bad, bad man," Willy Muller tells us, and on first evidence the reader might be inclined to agree. A suspected murderer and a confirmed hack, the protagonist of Everything You Know is a Hollywood-style bottom feeder with no evident sense of shame. In London, years ago, Willy went to prison for killing his wife. Once released on appeal, he alienated his few remaining friends by writing a tell-all memoir of his married life before making the natural progression to churning out second-rate "sleb" bios. ("The crap just bubbles out of me, uncorrupted," Willy muses, half proud, half appalled. "Bad writing is my gift.") Did Willy kill his wife? Or did she hit her head in a fall? Either way, he is still alarmingly full of bile, raging against a world populated by "malignant dwarfs," "trolls," and "lipsticked ferrets." When his daughter kills herself using pills, Willy counts his blessings: after all, "Sadie might have done herself in in any number of vulgar or grotesque ways." The man even calls his dying German mother "Herr Kommandant"--to her face.

Temporarily shacked up in Puerto Vallarta with his girlfriend, a cosmetic surgery victim who wears "a perpetual expression of parched exhilaration," Willy takes his rage out on everyone around him, including himself. In fact, he waxes almost loving about his own physical decay--his skin with its "ancient, battered look of fried liver," ears with "a violet tinge at their curly edges, like exotic salad leaves," sagging belly gazing up at him "like an affectionate haggis." There are certainly pleasures to be found in this particular brand of literary nastiness, although Willy does pick some rather large and stationary targets: agents, facelifts, pretentious directors with German accents, and so on. Happily, debut novelist Zoe Heller has something larger in mind than the spectacle of a man savaging everything hateful in reach, and the book undergoes a subtle shift in tone midway through.

The medium is Sadie's diary, delivered to Willy's door four months after her death. Written in a style as straightforward and affecting as Willy's is blustering and cruel, it describes a childhood of Dickensian loneliness and an adult life ruled by a heartbreaking--and unsuccessful--search for love. At first Willy can't read without feeling "terrible, fluttery pains" in his gut. Later, however, the diary elicits what is--at least in Willy's terms--a kind of moral thaw. "Only when you die do you run out of chances to be good. Until then, there is always the possibility of turning yourself around," his accountant tells him, and amazingly, Willy pays heed. (Fortunately, for those of us who have come to enjoy his misanthropy, not too much heed; to the bitter end, he can't help noting of his former sister-in-law, "Boy, did her arse get big.") It's a mark of Heller's skill that we never stop caring about Willy, no matter how repulsive he seems; half victim, half perpetrator, half German, half Jew, he muddles through life with a moral passivity that might resemble our own. Everything You Know is a sharp, stylish, and wickedly funny first novel, but like its hero, it has real sadness concealed underneath. --Mary Park

From the Publisher:

"A smashing success...Wickedly funny, lively and--ultimately--moving. Her ability to engage us with a reprehensible, mercilessly biting man [is] a wonder."
Heller McAlpin, Newsday

"An acerbic, sneakily touching novel...Heller may be an assiduously unsentimental novelist, but she knows where the heartstrings are when she needs them...She can be nimble, hilarious. She has a shrewd ear for dialogue and conjures a terrific cast of supporting characters."
-- Jeff Giles, New York Times

"Delightfully black-hearted...Not since Flannery O' Connor has a woman writer come along who seems to so thoroughly understand the greasy inner cogs of the male psyche, especially where matters of sex are concerned."
-- Jim Haner, Baltimore Sun

"A splendid ventriloquist...Her treatment is usually light and assured--and often extremely funny...Above all, Everything You Know is a highly accomplished first novel, suggesting even better things to come."
-- Wayne Daniels, Boston Book Review

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Everything You Know, Zoe Heller, Everything You Know is the first novel from the bestselling author of Notes on a Scandal, Zoe Heller. The women in Willy Muller's life are trouble. His mother insists he eat tofu. His dopey girlfriend, Penny, wants him to overcome his personal space issues - while Karen, his other, even dopier, girlfriend, just wants more sex. Meanwhile, his oldest daughter, Sophie, wants him to finance her husband's drug habit. But it's his youngest daughter, Sadie, who's giving him the biggest headache. Just before committing suicide three months ago, she sent Willy her diaries. Poring over the record of her empty life, he feels pangs of something unexpected .remorse. But isn't it a bit late for such sentimental guff? Set in London, Hollywood and Mexico, Everything You Know is a supremely witty take on love, death and the age-old battle of the sexes. "Instantly ranks her among the most interesting and exciting of British writers". (Will Self). "Sharp and feisty, a riotous read". (Tatler). "Fast paced and finely timed, veering from tragedy to farce to back again .full of brilliant observations". (Harpers and Queen). "Seamlessly blends the sarcastic and the sincere, the comic and the tragic .stylish and spirited". (New York Times). Zoe Heller is the author of three novels, Everything You Know, Notes on a Scandal, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003 and The Believers. The 2006 film adaptation of Notes on a Scandal, starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, received four Oscar nominations. She lives in New York. Bookseller Inventory # B9780141039992

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