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Jesse Browner's dazzling new novel records a single day in the life of Wes, a seventeen-year-old who attends Manhattan's elite Dalton School and lives in Greenwich Village in a dilapidated town house with his terminally ill mother, distant father and beloved younger sister. In the course of one day everything will happen to Wes: he will lose his virginity to the wrong girl and break his own heart, try to meet a Monday morning deadline for a paper on War and Peace, and prepare an elaborate supper he hopes will ...
Jesse Browner's dazzling new novel records a single day in the life of Wes, a seventeen-year-old who attends Manhattan's elite Dalton School and lives in Greenwich Village in a dilapidated town house with his terminally ill mother, distant father and beloved younger sister. In the course of one day everything will happen to Wes: he will lose his virginity to the wrong girl and break his own heart, try to meet a Monday morning deadline for a paper on War and Peace, and prepare an elaborate supper he hopes will reunite his family. Wes struggles through the day deep in thoughts of sex, love, Beatles lyrics, friendship, God and French cuisine-a typical teenager with an atypical mind, a memorable young man who comes to the poignant understanding of how fragile but attainable personal happiness can be.
Everything Happens Today is funny, moving, generous and exhilarating. With a classic structure that nods, inevitably, to Mrs. Dalloway and characters worthy of comparison to those created by J.D. Salinger, Everything Happens Today will enchant young adults who see themselves in the story as well as adult readers who will be captured by the deeply sympathetic characters and the acute feel for the way we live now. Most readers will want it never to be over.
An angst-filled day in the life of a young man whose hope for an idyllic relationship is intruded upon by life's rich realities.
The latest from Browner (The Uncertain Hour, 2007, etc.) is a rumination on young love and the promises therein. Browner's Caulfield-esque ruminator is Wes, a 17-year-old living in Greenwich Village with his dying mother and an emotionally departed father. What is sweet in Wes' family life is his ebullient relationship with his little sister Nora, who calls him "Daddy-O" and whom Wes obviously adores. Unfortunately it's a day of massive self-recrimination for Wes, who has come home on the Walk of Shame after losing his virginity to a lovely young thing named Lucy. This development has shattered Wes' fantasy of following up on his box of fantasies dubbed, "This thing with Delia." As Wes inoculates his guilt with old Elliot Smith lyrics, his friend James is one of the few to tell him the truth. "There is no thing with Delia," James says. "There never has been a thing with Delia. It's all in your head, like a piece of shrapnel." Though there is plenty of navel-gazing in Wes' restrained sense of panic and gloom, Browner does a fine job of mixing the incongruities of modern communication—readers may wince with every ping of the iPhone—with the timeless anxiety of young people finding their way. "I seem to be paralyzed by the challenge of doing the right thing," Wes confesses. "It's not like it's straightforward, the way you might think. There seems to be a trick to it, like a trick of the mind, or a trick or perspective, or something."
A light, modern and keen look at the discord between whimsy and prudence.
Posted October 16, 2011
I'm a huge fan of Jesse Browner's, having loved THE UNCERTAIN HOUR. This new novel, EVERYTHING HAPPENS TODAY, is as gorgeously written, and equally as surprising. The characters are wonderfully vivid, their relationships all full of love. This book will leave you laughing, thinking and wanting to stay longer with these wonderful characters. I hugely recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.