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Everything You Know

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  808 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
"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 rem ...more
197 pages
Published 2000 by Penguin (first published January 1st 1999)
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B the BookAddict
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Angela, Shane,Marguerite,Michael, everyone!
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: I'd read previous Heller novel
Shelves: fiction


The first Zoe Heller novel I read, The Believers, left me manically scouring the library for more of her work. I found Everything You Know; a novel with characters easily as cringe-worthy as the Litvinoffs who feature in The Believers. It is the story of Willy Muller whose life has a delightful awfulness about it. Written in the first person narrative, Heller treats the reader to Willy's sarcastic, witty outlook, his superbly droll thoughts and wry observations. He has a dim-witted girlfriend, o
...more
Erika
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Willy Muller is a truly horrible person. His wife died from a fall that may, or may not, have resulted from him shoving her. One of his daughters won’t talk to him, and the other one, also estranged, committed suicide. One of her last acts before ending her life was to send Willy 11 years of her journals, and he responds to the posthumous package with deep callousness. “She had succumbed to the sentimentalities of leave-taking,” he says. “Christ, isn’t life hard enough without that sort of hokey ...more
Girish
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Only when you die do you run out of chances to be good.Until then, there is always the possibility of turning yourself around"

Zoe Heller's debut book has a pretty tried and tested concept of parental/old age remorse handled with freshness and fiestiness of her prose. There were places, I rued the fact I was reading a hard copy because I can't highlight a quote for future reading. Not her best, but can't help feeling the need for a fan club for Heller (both of them, why not?) after finishing the
...more
Judith
Nov 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed Heller's other books, including "Notes on a Scandal" and "The Believers", so I assumed I would also enjoy this one. And I am very impressed that a young beautiful woman like the author can write so realistically a story narrated by a prickly old guy who is recovering from a heart attack and reminiscing on his past mistakes as a drinker, womanizer, and absentee father. However, I am tired of the genre of the old guy seeking redemption for his atrociously bad conduct, while still ...more
Johanna
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Heller is a beautiful and very talented writer and story teller. And her ability to write such a complex main character, who’s male, is exceptional. But despite that I struggled to completely enjoy the book as it’s just so depressingly sad and the characters are not hugely likeable (that normally doesn’t bother me) but the combination of the hopelessness and darkly sad characters makes it a book that I struggled to really enjoy. In saying that I read it in 24hrs. This however does not put me off ...more
John
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Willy Muller is a great character, the anti-hero at the diseased heart of Zoë Heller's debut novel. What makes the book so satisfying is not its originality; rather, it is the delicate and wickedly funny way that Heller makes her germophobic protagonist sympathetic even as the situation gets worse.

Willy might have been gleefully played by Jack Nicholson in his prime. We cringe to watch him, but we peek through our fingers to see what he will do next. Also, we hope against hope that he might sud
...more
Slávka
Apr 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Moja prvá ozajstná recenzia, ak by bol niekto taký dobrý a chcelo by sa mu to prečítať a povedať, čo si o tom myslí, budem rada :)

Everything you know - Zoe Heller

Hodnotenie : 3.5/5
Cover : 2.5/5
Dátum čítania : 5.4. - 23.4. 2011

Chudák Willy má ťažký život. Jeho neveľmi príťažlivá priateľka Penny ho neustále štve svojou hlúposťou. Po finančnej stránke to veru nie je bohviečo (ak možno takto označiť dlžobu cca. 200 000 $). Ak chce svoju situáciu zlepšiť, musí knihu o manželkinej smrti, ktorú nezapr
...more
Ian Mapp
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-fict
Zoe Heller is one of my favourite authors. She really needs to pull her finger out. On completion of this, her first book, I have now read everything that she has produced.

Her last book, the believers, was six years ago.

This book is short but perfectly formed. The construct works well. Willy Muller is in hospital, looking back on the women in his life.

This includes two current lovers, an ex-wife - whom he accidentally killed in an accident with a fridge, one daughter who hates him - sadie - and
...more
Laura
Heller's freshman effort, Everything You Know, shows what would happen if she'd never learned to dial back some of her baser instincts: unbelievable pairings, absurd situations and characters too wrapped up in their own drama. The choice of protagonist alone takes getting used to: Willy, a curmudgeonly writer, follows up a health crisis by reading through his daughter's journals, the only connection left months after her suicide. Willy and the type-ridden supporting cast has a lot of implausible ...more
Kurt Douglass
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I think Zoe Heller may be a one-hit wonder. "Notes on a Scandal" is one of my favorite novels, so I wanted to read her other books. "The Believers" was underwhelming, but far better than "Everything You Know". Frankly, EYK was boring: the plot was very minimal, and the characters were superficial and unlikable. Based on the reviews and the marketing, it seems EYK is supposed to be a dark comedy; however, the tone is too flippant to be dark, and too cynical to be comedic.

My greatest vexation wit
...more
Emma Williams
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved this book. My only concern was at one point the echoes of the following excerpt from a letter by Evelyn Waugh were so close that it did make me wonder ... however knowing Heller's excellence as a writer I believe that this is either a coincidence or an unwitting echo from something she read a long time ago and had forgotten.

"In the hope of keeping him [= Winston Churchill's son] quiet for a few hours Freddy and I have bet Randolph £20 that he cannot read the whole Bible in a f
...more
M M
Apr 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Pleasure was had from Zoë Heller's first novel Everything You Know, which has one of the most acerbic misanthropes I've encountered in the past year or so. His hatred of London and New York is so intense and so exquisitely described that any reader who hasn't been to these cities would probably never want to visit. He has a troubled relationship with his daughters (one of whom kills herself) and in his youth had served time for the murder of his wife (acquitted on appeal). Despite his dislike fo ...more
Camille
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, 2011, british, loneliness
I love the way Zoë Heller writes her characters. Her first person narratives really dig into the character's psyche and showcases all the warts, immoral thoughts and true dichotomy that lives within all us.

This novel follows a couple weeks in the life of Willy Muller. A British man acquitted of killing his wife years ago, living in LA who just received noticed that his daughter committed suicide. We watch Willy recover from a heart attack, cheat on his girlfriend, attempt to reconcile with his
...more
Siria
I read this book thinking it was a new one from Zoe Heller, but Everything You Know is in fact her first book, written before Notes on a Scandal. It's not as well-crafted an effort—the structure not quite strong enough to sustain it even over just 200 pages—and I'm not sure that her main character (Willy Muller, a philandering fiftysomething writer best known for the book he wrote in the aftermath of being acquitted of his wife's murder, who lives in self-imposed exile from the UK and has nonexi ...more
Dorothy
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I always find Zoe Heller's books about redemption of sometimes disgusting characters intriguing. The characters have got just a crack of goodness in them somewhere, and that's enough. The books usually end with the character taking just one step toward the better part of themselves, and it's up to you to imagine the rest. She really knows how to describe the sometimes ugly nitty-gritty of humanness though. Not all the characters "see the light" either.
Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those books in which not a great deal happens, but the writing is of such a consistently high standard, as well as being very funny, that it hardly matters. Like Zoe Heller’s other novel ‘Notes on a Scandal’, this features a dislikeable narrator and a lot of sniffy commentary, and aside from a slightly curious ending, I enjoyed it. What I was most impressed by was the creation, by a female author, of a male narrator who is most definitely, unquestionably, a Bloke.
Joan
May 22, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book - although the narrative voice of the self centred central character wasn't likeable I thought it worked well the juxtaposition of his trivial and pointless existance with the intimate diary written by his daughter who had recently committed suicide. I wanted to hear more about her life, I felt like reaching out to help her.
Jacqueline
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved the descriptions, really original, wish I could write like it. Interesting that the author writes as a older man and yet is so convincing. Perhaps though if I were an older man I would think differently and feel that the author has got us all wrong!
A difficult read at times but I enjoyed it.
Flipperty Gibbert
Jan 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
'Give a book 100 pages before you give up on it' someone once told me, 'then you will be really connected to the characters...' At 196 pages, once I had got to 100 I thought I may as well go the whole hog. Turns out I will not be following that piece of advice again. I don't think 1000 pages could have connected me to Willy Muller in any sense, and Willy himself seems utterly disconnected from every other character in the book, even those he has chosen to share his life with.
To be fair, his per
...more
Martin Boyle
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews
This is not as good as Heller's Notes On A Scandal, which was an effective look at manipulative relationships: perhaps far-fetched, but believable for all that. This is funnier, but just less believable, and that is probably what makes this a less good book. It is readable and enjoyable, but fails to quite find the ethical dilemmas that made "Notes" so much fun to read because of the depth they added and by making the book thought provoking.

Am I saying, this book is too shallow? Perhaps! There i
...more
E M
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I read "Everything You Know" because I was so impressed with Heller's "What Was She Thinking" and had I done it the other way around I'd never have gotten to Thinking. Everything You Know reminded me of Kingsley Amis' Lucky Jim only nowhere near as funny. Its style stuck me as a blend of what, for lack of a better term, I'd call magic realism, with a narrative intended to gradually reveal the character's psychopathy (or at least pathological narcissism) except that Muller comes across as a jerk ...more
Elwycke
I enjoyed this story. It takes place in England, America and Mexico and in my humble opinion I really think Miss Heller's writing comes alive when she depicts the English.
That to me is where she absolutely shines. The other parts are fun, amusing...but her talent lies here....or there, if you're not reading this in Britain.
LeeHong Toh
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Zoe Heller's debut novel is brilliant. Willy Muller is a curmudgeon and embittered journalist who has survived imprisonment after being convicted of murdering his wife, Oona. The story is not about whether or not he killed his wife, it is about redemption, as his financial adviser says to him, “Only when you die do you run out of chances to be good.”

It is a compelling read.

Best, LH
http://lifang-leehong.blogspot.my/
John
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it
5/10
Allie
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really struggled with this book. Didn't enjoy it half as much as Notes on a Scandal
Ann
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful writing and a truly repellant main character.
Val Penny
Zoe Heller was born in London, England in 1965 and educated at Oxford University, UK and Columbia University, New York, USA. She is a journalist who, after writing book reviews for various newspapers, became a feature writer for The Independent in England. She wrote a weekly confessional column for the Sunday Times in London for four years, but now writes for the Daily Telegraph in London and earned the title ‘Columnist of the Year’ in 2002.

A suspected murderer and a confirmed hack is the prota
...more
Veronica
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mooched, fiction
Initially I thought I wasn't going to like this book, with its bitter, misanthropic narrator Willy, who appears to be quite comfortable with his own nastiness. But the second half was better and more interesting than the first, as Willy starts to recognise how badly he has failed the family he abandoned, and realises that "only when you die do your run out of chances to be good". There are some scenes here that are so excruciating (e.g. Willy's encounter with his older daghter) that they make yo ...more
Sushipink
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it
I've given this a 3, but I'm not sure that's the right decision. It certainly doesn't reflect the quality of the writing, which is up to Zoe Heller's usual shining standards. It's just that it didn't capture my attention the way her other books have done, and I found it hard to care about the protagonist. The narrator is a nasty person who is cut off from his own feelings, and his 'flat' experience of the world is so well portrayed that I found myself echoing it, and not caring either. He had th ...more
Guy Salvidge
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I don't precisely know why, but I love the work of Zoe Heller. I very much enjoyed Notes on a Scandal a month or so ago, but I have to say that I enjoyed this, her first novel, even better. Heller writes breezy satirical stuff about various absurd characters who often have some relationship to the film and media worlds. Our protagonist here, Willy, is a lot of a dick in that he's done some jail time for killing his wife, he's written a tell-all memoir about it and he carries on in appalling fash ...more
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Zoe Heller was born in London in 1965 and educated at Oxford University and Columbia University, New York. She is a journalist who, after writing book reviews for various newspapers, became a feature writer for The Independent. She wrote a weekly confessional column for the Sunday Times for four years, but now writes for the Daily Telegraph and earned the title 'Columnist of the Year' in 2002.

She
...more
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“I could feel Monika nudging me furiously at this point, but I refused to look at her. I wasn’t feeling particularly reverent about my mother’s deadness, or about the vicar, but I do despise that ghastly, ‘You’ve got to laugh, haven’t you?’ approach to religious occasions. As a young man, I often goaded my believing friends with crudely logical questions about God. But as the years have passed, I have found myself hankering more and more for a little cosy voodoo in my life. Increasingly, I regard my atheism as a regrettable limitation. It seems to me that my lack of faith is not, as I once thought, a triumph of the rational mind, but rather, a failure of the imagination - an inability to tolerate mystery: a species, in fact, of neurosis. There is no chance of my being converted, of course - it is far too late for that. But I wish it wasn’t.” 4 likes
“Meir, let me ask you something,” I said after a while.
“Sure.”
“Do you think I’m a bad person?”
“Only God knows that for sure, Willy.”
“So you don’t have an opinion at all?”
“Not one that really matters.”
“Okay, let me ask you something else. If the Polish peasant who hid Jews from the Nazis is a hero, what is the Polish peasant who turned the Jews away? Is he a coward?”
Meir smiled, “Of course.”
“Really? A coward? A bad man?”
“A coward isn’t a bad man, necessarily. You can’t know if you’re a bad man until you die.”
“You’ve got to wait until you hear god’s decision?”
“Well, yes, that’s true. But I meant something else. Only when you die do you run out of chances to be good. Until then, there is always the possibility of turning yourself around.”
4 likes
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