Ask a Bookseller: 'Here Goes Nothing'

The novel that Emily Bennett has been recommending to her customers at Sundance Books and Music in Reno, Nevada is "Here Goes Nothing" by Steve Toltz. As Bennett describes it, the story has whispers of the 1990 film "Ghost" and the NBC comedy "The Good Place," rolled up in an original and humorous tale.

Here Goes Nothing book cover
Here Goes Nothing is a novel by Steve Toltz.
Penguin Random House

The novel's protagonist, Angus, has led a crooked path. He seems to be getting his life back together — he's married with a child on the way — when he is murdered by a man who has been living in their house. Angus heads to the afterlife, which he finds sorely disappointing.

Those who have been in the afterlife longest have better privileges, Angus is expected to work, and a pandemic on earth is leading to crowding in the here-after. (The pandemic, Bennett says, is not COVID-19, and its presence in the book did not feel burdensome to her as a COVID-weary reader.)

Meanwhile, Angus's wife is falling in love — unknowingly — with his murderer, prompting Angus to look for a way to reconnect and seek revenge. The novel takes places in the points of view of both Angus and his wife, and each has information the other can't access.

“I know this all sounds very bleak and depressing. But it's actually one of the funniest books I've read,” says Bennett. “It's philosophical and funny. It's romantic, and it's repulsive. I've been recommending it to everyone.”

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