cover image Here Goes Nothing

Here Goes Nothing

Steve Toltz. Melville House, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61219-971-9

The clever latest from Toltz (Quicksand) follows a hapless husband who discovers that the afterlife is a bewildering, bureaucratic bore. Angus Mooney excels only at petty crime, laziness, and loving his pregnant wife, Gracie, a quirky wedding officiant. Despite their marital bliss, the couple is perennially short on cash, so when a stranger dying of brain disease offers to make Angus and Gracie his heirs in exchange for letting him die in their house, they agree. Shortly after the stranger moves in, he murders Angus, sending him to a banal afterlife, where he works at an umbrella factory and his fellow citizens complain of housing shortages and an ill-defined ongoing war. Finding death too much like life and missing Gracie, Angus becomes addicted to a machine that allows him to haunt his old home. He observes the dying man trying to seduce Gracie, who remains ignorant of how Angus really died, and he learns about the spread of a lethal virus that threatens to overwhelm the afterlife. Toltz’s wit and black humor transform a morbid premise into a rollicking ride. The result is an audaciously creative imagining of what awaits after death. (May)