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.