Jesse Browner

Welcome to the first week of Under the Covers, the blog that tells you about interesting books newly added to the shelves of the Hartford Public Library. I’m updating it each Tuesday and Thursday, and welcome your comments any day.

Today’s book is:

Everything Happens Today

By Jesse Browner

(Europa Editions, Inc., $15, 224 pages)

Who is this author?

You may not be familiar with Jesse Browner. I have to admit, this is the first of his four novels to catch my eye. But I expect that if audiences like it as much as the early book reviews do, he’s going to become much better known. Browner, who lives in Manhattan, is an award-winning translator of European authors, and a food writer, whose 2003 non-fiction book, “The Duchess Who Wouldn’t Sit Down: An Informal History of Hospitality,” was much admired.


What is this book about?

Many authors have tried to replicate the magic of “Catcher In the Rye,” and none have fully succeeded. But reports suggest Browner comes close in “Everything Happens Today,” which chronicles the first day of the rest of his life for Wes, a panicky 17-year-old private school student from Greenwich Village who has just lost his virginity to the wrong girl and gained a whole lot of turmoil. Wes’s mom is slowly dying, his dad has checked out emotionally, his adored little sister depends on him, he has a school paper due on “War and Peace” – and he’s trying to hold the family together, armed with an iPhone, a guilty conscience and the desire to do the right thing, if only he could figure out exactly what that was.

Why you’ll like it:

No matter how old we are, we never quite forget the anxieties and agonies of being a teenager in love and trying to make sense of the world. Browner, with humor and a sure grasp of how kids express themselves today, captures this struggle deftly. As he takes Wes through his one-day journey from angst to acceptance, he provides a welcome reminder of life’s quirkiness and unexpected beauty.

What others are saying:

“Browner has crafted a stupendous, thought-provoking, devilishly delicious novel…” says Library Journal.

“A light, modern and keen look at the discord between whimsy and prudence,” says Kirkus Reviews.

“Thankfully, Browner avoids a saccharine resolution, opting instead to let Wes’s struggles work as a meditation on life, love, and disappointment,” says Publishers Weekly.

When is it available?

It’s available now in the Fiction section of the Hartford Public Library.