Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever: Stories
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Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever: Stories

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  619 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Justin Taylor's crystalline, spare, and oddly moving prose cuts to the quick. His characters are guided by misapprehensions that bring them to hilarious but often tragic impasses with reality: a high school boy's desire to win over a crush leads him to experiment with black magic, a fast-food employee preoccupied by Abu Ghraib becomes obsessed with a coworker, a Tetris pla...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 9th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published February 1st 2010)
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David
Yo, Justin! Over here, dude.

Sorry to have to tell you this, bro. I was happy to overlook the obvious points working against you - the quintessential hipster bio, that disturbing glint of naked ambition in your jacket photo, the cover puff quote by a former talent gone seriously awry (Padgett Powell*), the information that you are working on your first novel and that you live in Brooklyn. Because everyone deserves a chance, so I gave you one.

But you blew it, bro. Big time. Turns out you had absol...more
Derek
To be honest, I'm a bit shocked by the amount of Goodreads ire directed at Justin Taylor's excellent short story collection, Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever. The complaints of solipsism (or, worse yet, that this is merely a "hipster" book) strike me as ill-placed, and inaccurate anyway.

I mean, I get it: you can't write a book that references Will Oldham and the Silver Jews and freegans (and, let's face it, be twenty-seven years old at the time of publication) and not get a handful of peop...more
Beth
I'm still reading these because I don't read a book of short stories the way I read a novel. (I will say that while I'm reading, it's hard not to go on to the next story as if it were the next chapter.) These stories are so vivid, I feel like I'm falling into Harry Potter's pensieve when I start one, and I come out startled and not sure where I am. I checked the book out from the library weeks ago, and I just can't bring myself to turn it in until I finish it.
Larry Hoffer
I'm becoming more and more a fan of short story collections than ever before. It's funny—what I used to find most problematic about short stories, the fact that I would get invested in characters only to have to give them up within a few pages, I'm starting to enjoy more and more. A good short story collection really gives you insight into many memorable characters and situations, and while there are certain stories you wish to be longer, the collection is often like a buffet—sometimes there wil...more
Ashley
Pretentious (and not in the way I like). The author notably inserts vocabulary such as the "freegan" in one of his stories, in what comes across largely as an attempt to show how cool he is (in that ironic, understated way). Ugh. The loosely constructed stories didn't seem to have a point, but I kept reading, hopeful that the next one would be better. No? Well, maybe the next one, until I'd finished the book and realized I'd wasted a good deal of the afternoon.

I'm all for listening to undergroun...more
Katherine
"She was worrying that the oak tree might come through her ceiling, wood obliterating wood, like a miracle running backward" (2).
"The shallow hole was surrounded by salvaged chairs and shaded by a blue canvas canopy they'd stolen from some resort because property was always already theft anyway, and plus they had really wanted that canopy" (17).
"Not having cable wasn't a statement. Maybe the statement was being made by the people who paid out a monthly portion of their slave wages for endless in...more
Amanda
I feel like I owe this a review? I felt shy about doing one at the time I read it (September '10), but here we go:
I read almost every story twice. This collection is great, and for those who are skeptical of my biases, I read this before that and it blew me away, so there. My favorite story in EHITBTE, and one of my favorite (favorite seems weird to say about things that are good because they make you uncomfortable, so let's say one of the best) stories I've read anywhere, is "Jewels Flashing in...more
Lori
Review copy

I sat down this morning to start ANOTHER collection of short stories, this one from author Justin Taylor. After completing it just a short 16 hours later, I was forced to admit two things: One, that I can really do some damage when I buckle down and focus on reading. Two, that I am also starting to enjoy short stories.

They are short and sweet. They get right to the point. There are no long-winded, uninteresting side-stories that pull you unwillingly away from the main plot. They don't...more
Amanda Davidson
Read this on the recommendation of a friend--first encounter: found and read two stories from the collection online. Thought: he's taking everything he has and flinging it at the page! Exciting, vital, honest, a punk analysis that was inside and outside that point of view all at once, a suburban perspective that was similarly (and queasily) compassionate and ridiculous. Gave me vital feeling of wanting to get it all down, all my own clashing, ridiculous, serious, contradictory worlds. Wonder if...more
Jeff Talbott
Here's where I wish goodreads had a half-star - this is more than a 3-star book, but it's not a 4-star-er... This collection of shorts from an incredibly talented twenty-seven year old shows so much promise that it almost carries you over the spots where you can't help but notice yourself reading a twenty-seven year old's first collection of shorts. Writing with a spare, slective pen, Justin Taylor could turn out to be a major voice - even in the most lackadaisical of the stories here he can tur...more
Hannah  Messler
This is my 500th Goodreads book! And it is a good one. It's got that stripped down quality I like to find in short fiction, that nice low Carvery hum--matter of fact and yet not immune to beauty, a cool little cage of oddities and sadnesses and brutalities and accidents and disappointments. If you were a teenage Floridian who got fucked up too much like a dirtball or mini sociopath junior because everything was boring and weird and then you moved to New York and just tried to get fucked up like...more
Michael
This is probably more like a 3-star book, but it's my own attitude that takes off another star; I've reached the end of my rope with it. If you're wondering what people mean when they derisively refer to "MFA fiction," look no further than this book. All the hallmarks are here: A lot of promising stories peter off into abstraction and irony, that tendency to flip the switch just when a story is moving into genuine emotion, and the obvious homages to our postmodern forefathers (Barthelme, in this...more
April
Everything Here Is The Best Thing Ever by Justin Taylor, besides being a book with an incredibly long title, is a collection of short stories, basically about hipsters being unemployed doing unglamourous things. The book is small, topping off at 185 pages. The stories are gritty. Some I related with and some I did not.
Read the rest of my review here
Bill Hsu
I'm pretty amused that some of the other reviewers complain about not liking the characters, or the reviews on the back cover. I don't have to like either to enjoy a book.

Justin Taylor's sense of timing in some of the stories is just amazing. And he usually leaves out just enough.

S.B.
Oct 07, 2011 S.B. rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to S.B. by: HTML Giant
Shelves: short-stories
More like: Everything Here Is the Most Tiresome Thing Ever. A lot of the stories seemed like parodies of something by Raymond Carver. Parodies, though, that make you want to flush this book down the toilet.
Mike Young
Openhearted like open all night, honest and going for it. Stories of the admittedly carbonated and flavored by corn syrup, but unapologetic and casting for a durable humanity, a huggable faith.
Theresa
Sep 05, 2011 Theresa added it
Shelves: 2011
Not to be a hater but if these stories can get published, then so can yours.
Matt Stalbaum
One of the downsides to short story collections by a single author is that, if there are a number of stories with similar plots and aspects, they can all blur together in your head. You read the last story, then look at the table of contents and wonder how you possibly read all of these, when you can't remember a single thing that happened in any one of them until you read their opening lines again. Sometimes the stories are all distinctive enough so this isn't a problem, and usually there are a...more
Ash
I actually enjoyed most of the stories in Everything here is the best thing ever. They were kind of average and not as zany as the description on the back led me to believe, but a couple were outstanding (well, mostly Tetris - I'm a sucker for apocalypse stories, I guess).

And then I got to the last two stories, "Jewels Flashing in the Night of Time" and "Whistle Through Your Teeth and Spit". I didn't like the former, but I actually kind of hated "Whistle...". I didn't really get why people were...more
Melissa
I'm more of a novel girl myself, so keep that in mind when reading this review. Taylor's stories remind me of an exceptional fine art photograph: At first glance, it's slightly mundane, but then you notice the details and suddenly you're intrigued. If I didn't have a stack of library books, I would go back and read this again immediately, and probably like it a whole more. There's a lot in there that a 2-hour front-to-back read won't catch (which, unfortunately, is how I read it). The weather pl...more
Liza

One of the stories in this collection is called "Jewels Flashing in the Night of Time". I think that title is an apt description of the 15 stories in this collection. Although a slim volume, the stories contained herein have a crystalline quality like stars or jewels. I'm reminded of the phrase from Disney's Aladdin: "diamond in the rough". In a world of uninteresting literary creations, Justin Taylor has fashioned some flashing and valuable jewels.


These stories are like looking through windows

...more
D.W. Lichtenberg
I picked up this book both because I'd heard it was great (the hype around it was big, at least) and because I was genuinely interested from a business/cultural point of view as to why it was so popular, a first book of short stories by a relatively unknown author whose main connection to the indie lit world was through HTMLGiant.com and the (somewhat insular) Brooklyn scene.

There were some real gems in this collection, and Taylor is obviously a talented writer with more to come. But there was u...more
Bri  Ahearn
Justin Taylor’s debut collection of stories seems to be guided by some universal list of all things hipster and disaffected. The Pixies are namechecked, we’re treated to the namedropping of Trotsky and Derrida. The fifteen stories are the lives of young Floridians and Manhattanities, endlessly aimless, and oblivious to the world beyond them.

It’s such a package of hipsterism that the collection itself nearly becomes meta, the epitome of Taylor’s description of Hot Topic packaging the conformist l...more
Andrew
Though slim, this collection weighs heavily on the reader’s heart, and more often, on the reader’s patience. Justin Taylor precedes the stories with a quote from writer-of-grim-stories Gary Lutz: “I sang the way I still talk. Every song was the worst way I could think of to ask for what I did not yet know how not to want.”

This knot is a perfect introduction to Taylor’s world, where nearly every inhabitant complicates life by choosing the path of the most resistance. Sympathy gives way to horror...more
Ryan Mac
I was browsing the new books section at my library and saw this book with a great title. I am normally not a huge fan of short story collections but there was one called Tetris...how bad could it be?

For me, the most frustrating part about these stories can be summed up with two points: (1) In almost every story, the characters are the same and speak in nearly identical first person voice. Some variety would have been nice. (2) Nothing really happens to the characters. They don't really do anythi...more
Alexis
"Chords fill the air, ooze like oil from a slab of deli meat." Jesus. If Jonathan Lethem teaches writing classes, do you think he uses Justin Taylor as an example of how not to do similes?
"Jewels Flashing in the Night of Time" is not bad for its ideas but the writing is mostly Conrad, Bataille, and the Abu Ghraib reports so maybe Taylor has a niche there.
That's the second to last story and the last story "Whistle Through Your Teeth and Spit" actually shows a human relationship so maybe skip to t...more
Niles Stanley
Justin Taylor is clearly inspired by the short fiction of Raymond Carver (via Hemingway), but he isn't just some douchey kid who think he's a lot better than he is. There are some stories in here when the settings and characters were just a tad too up to date and similar to myself or people I know, to the point where it made me uncomfortable. Not that this is a criticism, but Taylor clearly knows what and who he is writing about.

The stories are mostly about people age 16 to 24 who are lost in th...more
Lawrence
The title of the collection is better than most of the stories included. Yes, the stories include crisp prose sentences and an occasional excellent turn of phrase. But they are far too glib to be taken seriously. When they come close to real insight they stumble and head off the path to avoid coming face to face with the startling truth. I did like a few of the stories - Tetris (great response of the main character to the end of the world), Jewels Flashing in the Night of Time (integrating Abu G...more
Christopher Hebert
The stories are set mostly in the southeast (especially Florida) and New York City. For me, the ones set in the southeast, which are also the first to appear in the book, are the strongest. I don't know the chronology of when the different stories were written, but there's something about the more circumscribed worlds of the outsider kids in Florida that brings out the richest material from Taylor's imagination. It's as if their isolation allows for a greater depth of development. And compassion...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Justin Taylor is the author of the novel “The Gospel of Anarchy” and the story collection “Everything Here Is The Best Thing Ever.”

The Millions called “The Gospel of Anarchy” a “bold casserole of sensual encounter and deranged proclamation… Loudly, even rapturously, Taylor succeeds in making the clamoring passio...more
More about Justin Taylor...
The Gospel of Anarchy: A Novel The Apocalypse Reader Flings: Stories More Perfect Depictions of Noise A Whisper in the Reeds: Nine Charlie 32: Signalling 'The Terrible Ones'

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