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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ‘Only when you die do you run out of chances to be good’
Spurred by his increasingly apparent mortality and the recent suicide of his estranged daughter, Willy Muller makes his way gradually from a self-imposed and empty exile in America to an attempt to reconcile himself with what’s left of his family in Britain. Willy, who is both narrator and protagonist, is by his own admission a good bad writer when ghosting...
Published on 13 Jan 2006 by Reynell

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother
I read this after being very impressed by Notes on A Scandal and like her other disappointing work The Believers this just isn't worth the time of day. Again a very unlikeable middle aged man getting up to stuff you don't really care about.

Was Notes a pure one hit wonder? Her other books just aren't interesting in any way.
Published 14 months ago by C Jones


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ‘Only when you die do you run out of chances to be good’, 13 Jan 2006
This review is from: Everything You Know (Paperback)
Spurred by his increasingly apparent mortality and the recent suicide of his estranged daughter, Willy Muller makes his way gradually from a self-imposed and empty exile in America to an attempt to reconcile himself with what’s left of his family in Britain. Willy, who is both narrator and protagonist, is by his own admission a good bad writer when ghosting celebrity biographies. Happily for the reader Heller has him up his game when it comes to narrating the details of his own life. The prose is inventive and lively at the beginning of the book, adeptly painting a portrait of a self-centred man barely aware of those around him whose only observations of the world are cynical and material. By the end of the book the prose has shed much of its bravado and become calmer and more reflective, in keeping with Willy’s shifting sensibilities. The transition from one to the other is done with skill, the tone shifting gradually whilst retaining enough of the original Willy to make it believable. Despite the seriousness of the book’s focus, there are moments of high comedy and some delightful observations on the nature of sex and relationships, amongst other things. Indeed, the book is a good deal more complex than can even be hinted at in so short a review. I would recommend anyone to read it.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book you should read, 12 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Everything You Know (Paperback)
This is an engaging, thoroughly entertaining book. Ms. Heller manages to inhabit the soul of a middle-aged man and does so so convincingly, you almost forget that it is not a middle-aged man writing. The story is touching and infuriating, moving and maddening. Ms. Heller reinvigorates a tiring genre: the crusty curmudgeon looking back with anger and acid. This is a book you should read.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She Knows a Lot, 12 April 2003
By 
Jonathan Posner (LONDON, England United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Everything You Know (Paperback)
For those like me who religiously read Zoe Heller's Saturday column in the Daily Telegraph, they may long since have come to the conclusion that she would make the perfect girlfriend: intelligent, funny, erudite and attractive with vaguely raunchy undercurrents. Her serious writing doesn't disappoint either and only adds to her considerable appeal. Too bad she's now firmly tucked away in New York: definitely our loss.
The story of EverythingYou Know carries some of the macabre fascination of a car crash and one which assaults the reader on two fronts: the (almost) hopeless doom of Willy Muller, its main protagonist, combined with the unbearable tragedy of his younger daughter's suicide and his irreparable estrangement from her elder sister. These themes are cleverly slanted so that on the one hand the suicide has already taken place before the book begins, and on the other his first daughter comes across as a truly hideous individual. I was only trying to scrape up some sympathy for her because, thinking of myself as being a compassionate person, I knew I should – dysfunctional childhoods, and all that.
Heller's grasp of all her characters is as sure-footed as a deceptively delicate mountain goat and if at times you want her to maybe just turn the volume down a little bit, she clearly relishes her cast with a tangible mirth. But it's her acute observation of everyday detail that wins the day, and I can only recall Paul Theroux doing it as well as she does (see Hotel Honolulu, for example); whether it's the way certain women walk or speak, or the exact manner in which another takes her knickers off, Heller's power of description is superlative and often unforgettable.
But maybe none of this would be over-remarkable in itself were it not for this wonderful writer's underlying compassion and clear sensitivity. One always feels that however ghastly her characters' behaviour, the ghastliness is informed and mitigated by a very human, and often very raw, vulnerability. It seems that Zoe Heller knows deep inside about these things. Her next book is due shortly. We'll know more about her then, and I for one can't wait for that. Meanwhile I'm already scheming about how she's going to become my girlfriend in another life . . .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A voice that really works, 3 Aug 2007
This review is from: Everything You Know (Paperback)
Another one of these books with a plot so simple that you wish you'd wrote it yourself. But that's the beauty of it ... To write simple is what's most difficult.

Heller's novel consists of two parallel stories. The first person you get to follow is Willy - a middle-aged man who has escaped to the States after being accused of murdering his wife in the U.K. He's just had a heart-attack and this makes him reflect more on his somewhat tragic life. The second person you get to follow is Sadie - Willy's daughter who has just committed suicide. You get her story through some left over diaries that she has sent to her dad. Every chapter begins with a new journal entry and is followed by disaster upon disaster in Willy's life. But the closer Sadie gets to her suicide, the closer Willy gets to some kind of change and development.

The subject sound very depressing, but Heller has created a voice that really works. Willy is a very round character who doesn't apologize for himself. She is also a master when it comes to imitate accents; everything from English working class in London to rich German holiday makers. The only reason I'm not giving the book five stars is that in a few situations things are getting a bit too comical to be believable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So funny, so grisly, 22 Jun 2009
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This review is from: Everything You Know (Paperback)
Zoe Heller is such a clever writer. Her characters, even as they are making you squirm, remind you of fiction's great power: it can show what's going on inside. And here that's breathtaking stuff, since her hero is one with whom very few of us - thank God - are going to identify. Yet, gradually, in creep the little slicks of recognition, and in their train, the feelings of sympathy. People who 'don't really like books about nasty people' might have a problem with her work. The rest of us, who try to look more clearly at the world, think she's a MARVELLOUS writer.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read. Heartbreaking and funny all at once., 5 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Everything You Know (Paperback)
As a reader of Heller's columns for years I was quite surprised to find this wasn't another book in the "I'm a single twentysomething girl in the big city" genre. Rather, it's a thoughtful study of a man at mid life, struggling to come to terms with the death of one grown daughter and theestrangement of another. Heller writes beautifully, putting one in mind of Updike or Phillip Roth. And did I mention it's funny, funny, funny? Full marks for this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother, 5 Oct 2013
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I read this after being very impressed by Notes on A Scandal and like her other disappointing work The Believers this just isn't worth the time of day. Again a very unlikeable middle aged man getting up to stuff you don't really care about.

Was Notes a pure one hit wonder? Her other books just aren't interesting in any way.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Sharply Written Tale of Love and Loathing, 28 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Everything You Know (Paperback)
Zoe Heller's familiar name as a journalist led me to want to read her first novel. I recognised her sharp, economical style from the first page and was intrigued, as I always am, to know how a female author would deal with a main male protagonist. Willy Muller is a thoroughly 'orrible man, yet somehow I wanted to read on because I felt something must happen (and the jacket blurb promised redemption!) Many of the characters were merciless stereo-types with attiude, quite entertaining nonetheless. The diary extracts belonging to Willy's dead daughter were both hilarious and moving.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amongst my favourite authors.., 30 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Everything You Know (Paperback)
I just love Zoe Heller ...and I can't waIt for her to write something else.

She can handle a tiny detail - but has an interest in the world.

She written phrases that stick with me and I can still picture characters in her books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A road less travelled, 22 Feb 2014
This review is from: Everything You Know (Paperback)
Willy Muller's view on the life he's lived thus far is bleak and unrelenting. Disarmingly honest with everyone, including himself, he takes no prisoners and refuses to look on the bright side, As the book moves forward, we learn why and how Willy has become the man he is. And although his company may not be comfortable it is certainty enlightening & often entertaining. Containing too its fair share of heartbreak, you might not like him but you can't help but join him on his journey. Ultimately all our decisions are our own and we have to live with them whether we're comfortable with them or not. And in this case it takes a heart attack for Willy to truly look at himself and judge where he needs to go next. I found this novel at times bleak, at times funny but mostly I wanted to understand the main character and Zoe Heller has a real gift for inhabiting the voice of her main character. I found him utterly convincing. Highly recommended.
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Everything You Know
Everything You Know by ZoŽ Heller (Paperback - 28 July 2005)
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