Everything is Horrible Now by Edward Lorn

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Publisher: Lornographic Material | Release Date: Feb. 5, 2019 | Pages: 372

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading and naming Edward Lorn's The Sound of Broken Ribs my number one read of 2017, it was high time I got around to reading more of the dude's stuff, his Bay's End books in particular. Over the course of 2018, I've been able to catch up on this series, with the exclusion of Fog Warning, and one thing that's immediately noticeable is just how much Lorn has grown as an author since Bay's End.

Everything is Horrible Now, the penultimate chapter in this All Things Lead to the End cycle, is his most adeptly written, and most complicated, work to date. If, as one character explains here, time is like a pretzel, then traveling through Bay's End is like peeling an onion. There are layers and layers of complexity here, and the further you dig beneath the skin the more things start to sting (and yes, over the course of this series as a whole, sometimes there are plenty of tears).

Right from the opening paragraph, you can sense that Everything is Horrible Now is something of a departure from previous Bay's End books. Through a highly omniscient third-person perspective, we get a rough inkling that there's a grandiosity to Lorn's scope here. Even while the previous two books have dabbled in varying degrees with cosmic horror, it's immediately clear that this particular element will have a significantly larger role to play in these here narrative underpinnings. And, hot damn, does it ever.

It starts off simply enough, if such a thing can be said of the Bay's End bishop, Father George, murdering his family before taking his own life. What follows, though, is a densely plotted narrative that twists its way through a large contingent of well-developed characters (some familiar), meditations on the nature of god and religion and the irreligious and the evil that religious fundamentalism can foment, and the structure of time itself. It's a doozy, simply put.

There's a lot going on here, and Lorn navigates the highways and byways of Bay's End with aplomb. I good and truly dug the exploration of one homosexual character's relationships and forced conversion therapy treatments, which reminded me a bit of the old British TV series The Prisoner. As an added bonus, for all all the goofballs out there still complaining that a gay character's sexuality must somehow be integral to the plot (despite this never being an issue with straight character's sexuality), well, Lorn sees you, has heard your silly complaints, and will now proceed to make your head explode.

Lorn gets a metric ton of stuff right in Everything is Horrible Now, and the book maintains a steady pace, giving up a narrative that is impossible to shake loose and escape from. Not everything is perfect, though, and a few elements feel slightly half-baked, such as a rape survivor and a ghost baby that never quite mesh, particularly in light of how the overarching narrative resolves itself. The book's ending itself is both an intellectual curiosity and a point of contention, one that I'm not quite able to fully resolve at this time.

As with the finale to The Bedding of Boys, Lorn has constructed one hell of a lead-in to the 2019 series finale in No Home for Boys that has me itching to see how this all wraps up. It puts some particular pieces on the game board that will no doubt have an incredible impact on what comes next, and what has come before, and I'm damn excited to see how it shakes out. On the other hand, without spoiling the particulars, it's also the type of ending I don't typically enjoy on the surface. It's not emotionally satisfying, but it is intellectually and philosophically intriguing and has me chomping at the bit to see what comes next.

I feel like I might not be able to adequately square away the finale to Everything is Horrible Now until we've reached the end of Bay's End proper. It's also a bit of a monkey wrench of an ending, in that I have absolutely no friggin' idea where Lorn's taking all this. Literally anything can happen at this point, which is certainly exciting, and I'm damn well gonna be here for it.