... wildly imaginative ... dark, twisted and hilarious ... Toltz is smart, imaginative and funny, unafraid to lob a literary grenade into hard-held beliefs of humankind. He uses Here Goes Nothing as a jumping-off point to parody the perversity and stubbornness of human nature and to highlight our uneasy relationship with mortality. Think of it as a comic, modern-day Divine Comedy with more intercourse and fewer opportunities to reach Paradise.
... a moving meditation on all that is wrong with our world today and an innovative take on the afterlife ... comes in at nearly 400 pages but reads shorter – one mark of a skilled writer. Another is that Toltz wears his existentialist subject matter lightly, with a tone that is heavily ironic, droll and bittersweet ... While some of the scene set-ups could do with pruning, the pace of both storylines zips along, in an energetic narrative full of unexpected twists ... Even in the direst of situations, all three characters have agency, another smart choice by Toltz ... The book is very funny, with plenty of slick dialogue and one-liners ... The philosophical musings imparted throughout are equally cavalier, and all the more affecting for it ... In its epic scope charting this life and beyond, Here Goes Nothing works as a smart social commentary on our fossil fuel-guzzling, warmongering, information-obsessed, pandemic-riddled world. It is a hugely timely book on the dangers of the way we live today, a dose of much-needed medicine sweetened with enough humour and panache to make it digestible.
Toltz’s writing is at its most lyrical when discussing love in its various forms, even at its most destructive ... a thought-provoking work that’s perfect for anyone whose dim view of our planetary existence is tempered by hope in something better than a doctrinaire ending.
Every copy of this book should come with a starter dose of Prozac ... This is a comedy that takes the tragedy of immortality seriously. It flips the fear of oblivion on its head to meditate on the terrifying suspicion that 'the abyss of eternal nothingness was just a pipedream' ... Although there are no eternal flames in this novel, like Mark Twain near the end of his life, Toltz is writing with a pen warmed up in hell. Beneath its wry surface, Here Goes Nothing is a relentless deconstruction of religious certainty and spiritual affirmation ... Clever lines drop down on these pages like flowers thrown on a casket. But a plot about the eternally static nature of reality risks being infected by its own lack of progress. Having underlined so many of Toltz’s clever quips, I kept running up against the question of what this mound of philosophical pessimism amounts to? It’s hard to shake the impression that Toltz and Angus are spinning on the same ground ... Behind this zany, increasingly dark comedy, though, lies a wry rejection of the persistent hope that death will either snuff us out or make us better by serving up justice, solace, salvation, revelation, something. In Toltz’s pages, imperishability doesn’t convey any transformation at all. The bad news is that improving ourselves is still and forever up to us alone.
... does indeed lay on the dark humor in thick doses, and much of what is covered here is directly out of those Philosophy 101 courses that most readers probably slept through in college. If that does not describe you, hang on for a treat, as this is highly intelligent reading of the tallest order with much to unpack. Steve Toltz is obviously having a ton of fun guiding you on this existential journey, which will pay you back for sitting through those classes in more ways than you can imagine.
... fabulously impressive ... cannonballs straight into heady existential questions, magicking up a vision of human life at once generous and absurd while wearing its considerable ambition lightly. Very lightly. A few pages in, realising that the story is told in a compulsively jokey, determined-to-impress voice with even the dialogue consisting entirely of well-timed one-liners and off-the-cuff aphorisms, I groaned: 'Oh Christ – 400 pages.' But a headstrong novelist sets the parameters of their own realism, and soon the style clicked. Once it did, I struggled to keep track of how much there was to admire in Toltz’s relentlessly lively sentences, offbeat insights and unfaltering narrative energy ... Toltz takes his time with each book – new ones have appeared at seven-year intervals – and Here Goes Nothing is a funny, clever, entertaining argument in favour of cultivating the patience to get it right.
As the plot grows increasingly baroque, the book also bristles with set pieces that seem to be there purely for their own sake. It blasts away at pretty much all of our current received wisdoms, with particular reference to the self-obsession inherent in using subjective — aka 'lived' — experience as evidence of anything ... While Toltz obviously has a serious purpose — to rub our noses in what a mess we’ve collectively made of being alive — his usual high quotient of fizzing one-liners ensures that not many pages go by without at least one laugh. By the end — possibly after a little lie-down — you may well be left wondering what the book adds up to: whether Toltz has served up a full-scale inventory of Homo sapiens or simply let that wild imagination of his run away with him. Either way, though, you’ll be hard pressed to deny what a ride you’ve just had.
Toltz revels in the irony of an afterlife skeptic forced into a ghastly second act. Angus’ narration is thick with zingy one-liners pointing up the absurdity of it all. But this is less a novel of ideas than an exploration of big feels, among them the slow-spreading dread of societal cataclysm, the grief of watching one’s beloved embrace a new partner, and the fear that now may be as good as it gets.