All Of Us Together In The End is a lyrical examination of transformation after loss, by a writer the New York Times calls "irresistible" and "utterly convincing."
Vollmer’s family memoir shimmers with wonder and enchantment and begins with the death of his mother from early-onset Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Soon after, flashing lights and floating orbs appear in the woods surrounding his family’s home in rural North Carolina, where his widowed father lives. Formative memories of having been raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church resurge in Vollmer’s mind, hastening self-reexamination and reckoning.
He corresponds with a retired geology professor about “ghost lights,” which supposedly occur more in North Carolina than any other American state. He scrolls TikTok. He contacts an eccentric shaman who lives in Spain to have transcendental psychotherapy administered over Zoom. And then Jolene emerges, a woman endeared for decades to Vollmer’s father, holding secrets to their family’s past.
Amidst the turmoil and loneliness of the pandemic, All of Us Together in the End is a poignant and often humorous investigation into belief set in a time where it seems people will believe anything. It is an elegiac affirmation of the awesome, strange, otherworldly ways our loved ones remain alive to us, even when they are out of reach.
Praise for All Of Us Together in the End
“This engaging what’s-in-the-woods puzzle elegantly probes the questions that characterize deep relationships and deeper mysteries.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“All of Us Together in the End is an unforgettable record of 'a purposeful journey' that became 'a collision with the ineffable.'” —Rebecca Foster, Foreword Reviews, Starred Review
“If I had witnessed what Matthew Vollmer has seen, I think I would, like him, resist the mystery; that is, I, too, would think it was too good to be true, too good to be believed. The world owes us nothing yet gives us everything, the lights seem to proclaim, and yet. Vollmer restores the mortal body to its shine, existence to its sublime and brilliant mystery. All of Us Together in the End will make you reckon with your ghosts, and will teach you exactly what matters in the end. I am a more aware witness now of the brightness of this world, and I have to thank Vollmer’s spiritual memoir for allowing me to see it and, consequently, believe it.”
—Jenny Boully, author of Betwixt & Between and The Body
“All of Us Together in the End is Vollmer’s best work to date. The book showcases his keen awareness for the very present (pandemic, institutional racism, Zoom, TikTok,) and also his ability to gather the weird, mystical, and poignant threads of his life to tell the engrossing story of how loss can lead to transformation and how his family history comes to inform his path as a seeker. Vollmer can do funny and tender and mystical all at once in fluid prose that gets me thinking deeply about the tradition of American storytelling. Like Mark Twain, he collects narrative ephemera: the kooky, the folkloric, the lingua franca of the nation to narrate an elegiac story of a man evolving through grief by the gleam of a mysterious but vital light.”
—Carmen Giménez, author of Be Recorder
“Matthew Vollmer thinks too much. I’m glad, for I’m probably not thinking enough most days. All of Us Together in the End is an honest missive addressed to hope, regret, childhood, faith, truth, parenting, and the paranormal. And Love, with all its mysteries. It’s an insightful, beautiful memoir that I’ll remember forever.”
—George Singleton, author of You Want More: Selected Stories
“All Of Us Together in the End is a special book—part investigation, part memoir, part love letter to the mountains of western North Carolina. It engages my mind as well as my heart. Most of all, Matthew Vollmer's book makes me think about family—what we're born to, what we make—and the kinship we find in each other and in the places that call us home.”
—Joni Tevis, author of The World Is On Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse
“Vollmer delicately portrays his ‘unmoored’ state of mind and its evolving connection to radical changes to his family and the world.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Throughout this journey, Vollmer invites readers into his world via detailed renderings of the places he’s called home. He recalls his childhood house with exquisite detail and recounts searching for the lights outside his father’s window so powerfully that readers can place themselves in the scene. And as he searches, Vollmer evokes a painfully universal experience: the process of moving forward with a life that doesn’t make sense after a loved one’s death.” —BookPage
Praise for Matthew Vollmer
“…irresistible…Expertly structured and utterly convincing, these stories represent the arrival of a strong new voice.”
—Joseph Salvatore, the New York Times
“Becoming conscious of the process by which we are produced may be the only available step to enabling our status as players rather than simply played, though it is no exit from the game itself. And that, to me, is what makes Matthew Vollmer’s fiction compelling at a much deeper level than the play of wit, sensibility, and intelligence in his craft.” —The Brooklyn Rail
"Vollmer's writing is my new favorite example of what it must be like to see a life flash before your eyes." —Fiction Advocate