Publication Details and Purchasing Information

How Did I Get Here?

Product Description and Author Information

About the Book

Based on the author’s popular Poets & Writers piece, “Lives of the Civil Servants,” a literary meditation that seeks to answer the questions: Have I lived the life I intended? Is the true artist made by single-minded devotion to his craft? Do we compromise our dreams in service to life’s responsibilities? Browner addresses the essential questions of life and work with clear-eyed pragmatism and painstaking beauty.

About the Author

Jesse Browner

Jesse Browner is the author of six books, including The Uncertain Hour and Everything Happens Today. He lives and works in New York City.


“A beautifully crafted, soul-searching investigation that cannot leave us unmoved…Jesse Browner breaks wide open our tendency to let life ebb away in a complacent opacity, allowing essential questions to surge forth: should I seek fame, wealth and power or freedom, creativity and fulfillment?” —Matthieu Ricard, author of Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill

“Could this book be any more intriguing? Wise, self-effacing, sweet, and scorning, to our great privilege, Jesse Browner, on the hallowed path of the classic seeker, rends open his heart and mind. How lucky we are to be invited on his hero’s journey!” —Joel Rose, author of The Blackest Bird and co-author of Get Jiro!

By turns hilarious, profound, and unexpected, [Browner] leaves us to understand that while our lives may have wound up on a different shore than the one we’d set our sights on, that’s not such a bad thing. The only possible us is the us who happened. —Karen Karbo, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Exceptional.” Library Journal

“Literarily informed and philosophically engaged, Browner’s essays are infused with a rueful ambivalence as well as an all-too-human longing for possible pasts and futures.” Kirkus Reviews

“Jesse Browner’s extraordinary inquiry into the path taken is hilarious, moving, and always wonderful. Sometimes baffled, sometimes amused, sometimes horrified, he offers a mid-way meditation on a life half-lived and clears, for himself and the reader, a new space of hope.” —Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland and The Dog

“A beautifully written, erudite, and thought-provoking examination of the underpinnings of a creative life.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Wistful, emboldening, questioning, provocative, and whimsical... Browner understands that there are many ways to get to where one wants to be. He offers inspiration on both literary and personal levels.” Booklist