I check a lot of books out of the Mount Prospect Public Library. Generally, I also choose a book by its cover. But I also read the inside cover to see if the story will be interesting to me. Everything Happens Today by Jesse Browner had a great cover that grabbed my attention. Wes seemed like an interesting kid and I wanted to see what his big day was all about.
One of my favorite books of the last few years was Saturday by Ian McEwan. I loved the format so much that I have tried to ape it in so many short stories that are laying around at my feet as I type this. To tell the story of one single day from a single perspective fascinates me because it is exactly how I think. I focus so much on the same details and interesting moments of every single day. Everything Happens Today plays in this same arena. The story begins with Wes walking home after a high school party with all of the inner monologue of a over-thinking teenage boy. He has imagined a certain life ahead of him in the short term that will lead to long term happiness and in a moment of passion, everything changes.
Wes suffers from the same conundrum of many teenage protagonists: he seems to smart for a teenager. Yes, he has doubts, but he reads of an older kid. He also is the child of a failed writer (another concept that appears in far too many books). He is in Greenwich Village. Yes, I know. All of these things don’t really sell this book outside of a hipster fascination, but Browner’s prose flows so easily off the page and I really fall for Wes.
Below is quote from near the end of the book. It doesn’t spoil the story, but I think this is the fundamental point of the story.
“You know when you’re writing a paper, and you run it through the spell-checker? You’d think, right, that you’d catch every typo? But you don’t, there’s always typos left, because sometimes when you misspell a word it becomes another word, and the spell-checker misses it. A mistake like that is a lot harder to detect. There’s nothing wrong with the new word, except that it’s in the wrong place. It’s out of context. That’s me. There’s nothing wrong with me, at least I don’t think there is, but even so I appear to be some sort of a mistake. I don’t fit in with the rest of the sentence, with the way everyone around me seems to think, or live their lives. Whatever it is that makes me out of place may be a tiny thing, one little letter transposed, but it makes all of the difference. Maybe I’m not even a spelling mistake, just the product of poor punctuation. I’m a question mark at the end of a declarative sentence. From now on, you can tell everybody that my new nickname is ‘Typo.’ Call me Typo.”
This is definitely a feeling that I think every young man feels at some point. I felt it later than 17, but it’s not my story.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a comic take on a Saturday. Nothing happens. Yet everything. If you remember how long a lonely Saturday after a mistake can be, this book will make you relive it.