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Authors: Katrina Onstad

Everybody Has Everything

BOOK: Everybody Has Everything
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International Acclaim for Katrina Onstad’s bestselling novel

Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize
Globe and Mail
Best Book of 2012
magazine Top 10 Book of 2012
Editors’ Pick, Top 100 Books of 2012

“Onstad makes a significant leap into the deep end with this story of a woman who has trouble coming clean with her husband, James, about the fact that she doesn’t want children. When she becomes the guardian of a friend’s son after a car accident, her conflict with gung-ho new dad James surfaces. Brave work from a writer who gets better with every book.”


“Utterly rich, vivid and filled with urgency. I couldn’t take my eyes off of these characters.”

— Kaui Hart Hemmings, author of
The Descendants

“Onstad is good at shifting both emotional baggage and the weight of past experience between Ana and James and their respective histories, and among the book’s minor characters as well. She makes clear, through plot twists and occasional rumination, how past events tend to encroach on present problems.… Well executed … entertaining.”

London Free Press

“Such a deeply impressive piece of work. I inhaled every page, feeling gut-punched by a writer willing to tackle such taboo subjects as the ambivalence of motherhood, the catalytic nature of children, and the restlessness of marriage. There are no unearned tears, nothing’s decorated, when I laughed or cried it was always for the same reason: painful recognition. Her characters demonstrate exactly what love does to us, in its awful absence and its glorious abundance. I loved this book.”

— Lisa Gabriele, author of
Tempting Faith DiNapoli
The Almost Archer Sisters

“Revelations are both joyous and heartbreaking, and Onstad handles both aspects well.… The characters’ motivations, self-revelations, and discoveries are carefully elucidated, such that the reader is able to form connections not just with Ana and James, but with the supporting characters as well.… Onstad delicately builds up layers and peels them away.”

Quill & Quire

“Katrina Onstad’s beautiful new novel is a clear-eyed look at an ordinary marriage under extraordinary pressure.
Everybody Has Everything
is about many things – family, friendship, responsibility, loss – but at its heart, it’s about what happens when the person you love suddenly veers off in another direction. It is unflinching yet tender, gripping and lyrical and devastating. I can’t stop thinking about it.”

— Lauren Fox, author of
Still Life with Husband
Friends Like Us

“This new book is very good, to get that out of the way: Onstad’s writing is always vigorous, funny and mean-because-it’s-true.… [Her] books are similarly sharp and unforgiving about the agita ensured by years of cities and work and relationships, about making a life and making choices, and in the new novel, enduring the subsequent, ambiguous successes and self-fulfilling failures.… Onstad perfectly gets at her characters, [and] the rhythms of rich, white city parents, who used to be young and who have problems that are at once real and magical.”

National Post

“What an interesting, vivid, utterly modern novel Katrina Onstad has written. I love how intelligently and precisely she explores James and Ana’s emotions around marriage, love, sex, work, ambition and parenthood.
Everybody Has Everything
made me both think and feel differently about my own life.”

— Margot Livesay, author of
The Flight of Gemma Hardy

“With a keen eye for details of the contemporary good life, Katrina Onstad precisely delineates the crack in the vase of what appears to be a happy marriage. This is a book that challenges conventional wisdom about love and parenting and rising to the occasion in a crisis. And there is no way to predict the next turn of its events, which makes it a delicious read.”

— Carol Anshaw, author of
Carry the One

How Happy to Be

Copyright © 2012 by Katrina Onstad

Original Emblem trade paperback edition with flaps published 2012
This edition published 2013

Emblem is an imprint of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada Limited

Emblem and colophon are registered trademarks of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada Limited

All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the publisher – or, in case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency – is an infringement of the copyright law.


Onstad, Katrina

Everybody has everything / Katrina Onstad.

eISBN: 978-0-7710-6879-9

I. Title.

93 2013        

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and that of the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Ontario Book Initiative. We further acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for our publishing program.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Song lyrics from “You Are the Light” copyright © Marvin Etzioni. Reprinted by permission of Marvin Etzioni; featured on the album
Marvin Country!
from Nine Mile Records.

McClelland & Stewart,
a division of Random House of Canada Limited
One Toronto Street, Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario


To Julian and Judah and Mia


Somebody loves us all.

—from “Filling Station”
by Elizabeth Bishop

The Day After Labor Day

, it took Ana and James only an hour to become parents.

James arrived first, stumbling toward a police officer sitting on a chair by a door marked
. He felt his eyes ballooning, growing too big for his face. He tried, but could not blink.
You are awake
, he thought.
This is happening

“My name is James Ridgemore,” he said to the policeman, who stood up quickly, as if caught in the act. James noticed he was short, or shorter than James. “My name is James Ridgemore.”

“Just a moment,” and the policeman went into the room, leaving James in an empty hallway, sniffing at alcohol and something he couldn’t identify: Fire? Burning hair? It was freezing down here, devoid of heat. The second finger on his left hand turned white at the tip.

The policeman reappeared, holding open the door. When James entered, the contents of the room dropped away. All that was left was a body covered with a sheet hovering in bottomless space. But in fact, the tray jutted out of the wall. A matchbox sleeve. James could not tell if the thing upon it was male or female. Other people were there (he would remember that: the chatter, the grocery store dullness of all crowds), uttering words he knew from television shows about coroners and death reports. No voices were lowered.

A woman pulled back the sheet. She wore clear rubber gloves that left her wedding band visible.

James looked down and recognized Marcus, the check-mark scar beneath his bottom lip. His black hair was matted with tar.
Why would that be? Who closed his eyes?
James ran rapid-fire through questions but silently, his mouth too dry to speak.
Why does he look so different? Is it only the difference between the living and the dead?

Then he realized that the difference, the strangeness, came down to something simple: Marcus was almost always smiling. James had never seen his lips so straight. There was no peace about him, no angel in repose, no release, no calm. He looked agitated, unsettled, as if he’d just been annoyed by a telemarketer.

“Yes, it’s him,” said James, though no one had asked a question. His legs felt hollow, swirling with smoke. But he did not feel ill. He was not repulsed or disgusted. He did not find it hard to look upon the body. Then the tray slid back into its cabinet and was sealed with a heavy handle.

The woman in the rubber gloves smiled at him ruefully.
Well-worn, this smile
, thought James.

On his way upstairs in the elevator, she stayed with him. She had removed her gloves, staring straight ahead as she did it. She was tiny. Everyone seemed small that day.

“You have a strange job,” James told her. She pecked a nod. “You’re so little. How do you lift the bodies? Is it hard?”

Then there was a roaring in his ears, the sound of steel twisting, a train exploding off its rails. He leaned against the wall and closed his eyes, heard a stream of sound pour forth from the tiny woman’s mouth, but he was unable to distinguish one word from the next.

The elevator stopped, and the woman put her hand under his elbow. She guided him out on his empty legs, past green walls, his feet on different-colored footprints stenciled on the floor. She appeared to be following the line of purple footprints, and so James did, too, pulled along as if riding a skateboard, past elevators, around corners. At first there were a few patients walking here and there. Someone with his papery ass hanging out in the open air, pushing an IV. But as the other colored footprints disappeared, the corridors grew quieter, more deserted. Though he knew it already, James was reminded that what was coming next was serious; not as serious as the basement, as Marcus frozen in a drawer, but serious.

At Room 5117, they stopped before a closed door. The woman propped up James against the wall and entered the room alone, a bellhop doing one last pass before opening the door to a guest. When the door opened for him at last, James saw a body on the bed; it was cleaner than Marcus, its face bloated, the head held to the body by a large collar. Tubes snaked from the fingers, and white bandages soaked with deep brown circles covered the head. A plastic hose hung from the open mouth like something being expelled. Her eyes were closed, but the sounds of the machines clapping and whirring were like a language, the body announcing itself to this room, singing its name: Sarah.

This room. James glanced around at all the people who emerged then, slowly, in full relief. Unfamiliar faces and, in the middle, a male nurse cradling a bundle of sheets in his arms. Out of the sheets, dangling in the air, was a foot encased in a small white running shoe. James moved then, fast toward the sheets, which were not sheets at all, but a boy, and not a boy, but Finn. Marcus and Sarah’s Finn. It was the longest
walk James had ever taken, those six steps through a room of strangers, his arms out, his body trembling.

“Give him to me,” he whispered hoarsely, angry at the time between the now and the boy he needed to put to his chest, angry that no one had given him over sooner. He grabbed the bundle, and my God, it was still warm, which meant he was alive—didn’t it? And then something happened that was not of this earth, that was transporting, undenied. The bundle shook to life, let loose a howl never heard before, a howl from a place in the boy of all knowing, of the mines beneath the beneath, a sound of despair that rolled like a boulder over James. He held the boy closer, the boy who would soon be too big for this kind of holding, his legs dangling from James’s torso. There was a sneaker on one foot, a dirty sock on the other, as if he had been running. The sticky black tar was not tar, James recognized finally, but blood. Blood in Finn’s blond hair that James was weeping into, keening along with him but holding on, holding him, the unbreakable, undroppable boy.

BOOK: Everybody Has Everything
7.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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