Excerpt from Dr. No by Percival Everett, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Dr. No

A Novel

by Percival Everett

Dr. No by Percival Everett X
Dr. No by Percival Everett
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    Nov 2022, 232 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Chloe Pfeiffer
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Print Excerpt

We discussed nothing in a roundabout, yet truthful way for just more than two hours. They wouldn't tell me what they wanted it for and I couldn't tell them what it was or where to find it.

"What do you think you can do with nothing if you find it?"

"That's why we're talking to you," said General He. "We'd very much like to know, you know?"

"You know nothing," from General She. "That is widely accepted. We want your help. Don't you want to serve our country?"

"I've given this country nothing my entire life. I don't plan to change now."

"What do you mean?" from She.

"I didn't mean anything by that," I said. "Not anything is not equivalent to nothing. You understand that, right?"

"Nothing could make all the difference in the world, we know that much," said General He.

I shook my head. "No one can possess nothing."

The generals shared a look that I didn't understand, in fact their shared look did not even register with me until that day as I walked home from my meeting with John Sill. Perhaps someone could find and harness nothing. I felt a little sick to my stomach, fearful, and somewhat giddy with excitement.

It is postulated that before the so-called Big Bang (like many, I imagine that it was more likely a whimper) the primordial constituent elements were things like helium-4, helium-3, deuterium, and protium. The sophomoric question, but no less vexing for that quality, is where did that stuff come from? And just what is the universe expanding into, through, and/or toward? It is either nothing or a something we call nothing and not that dark-matter bullshit that so many buy into. The theory was not my own, but that of a rather weaselly speculative French physicist named Jean Luc Retàrd, yes, who applied the notion of Riesz spaces and the idea of abstracting the order properties to free continuous functions from the details of any particular space, leading to the thought that if nothing actually comes into contact with something, or non-nothing, then that something will cease to exist. One can see the parabellum implications without much use of an imagination. Most believe, wrongly, that nothing is merely the emptiness between subatomic particles.

Nothingness is not emptiness any more than it is the absence of something, some thing, some things or substance. The actual Big Bang is coming, as what the universe came from is catching up to what it will become. To experience the power of nothing would be to understand everything; to harness the power of nothing would be to negate all that is, and the sad, scary, crucial idea here is that this might well be a distinction without a difference.

Excerpted from Dr. No by Percival Everett. Copyright © 2022 by Percival Everett. Excerpted by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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