My current literary crush is Jonathan Tropper thanks to his book This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel, a dark comedy about a dysfunctional family that sits shiva for seven days when the patriarch passes away from stomach cancer. If his other books are as good as this one, then John Irving will have some competition as my fave male author,
This is Where I Leave You is snarky, sensitive, witty and insightful. Somehow Tropper captures and recreates the subtleties of complex interpersonal relationships in the most accurate and hilarious of manners. How thoughts and feelings can turn on a dime. How one minute you can be crazy mad in love someone and the next you hate them with a passion. How our hearts can fool us, and so can our loins. How resentment can build up slowly overtime and how walls can come crashing down with a birthday cake and some flammable lube.
Judd Foxman, the main character is loveable and pitiable, pathetic and wonderful all at the same time. Not only is he having to deal with the death of his dad and living under the same roof as his mini-skirt wearing mom and his somewhat estranged siblings for seven days, but he is also dealing with a messed up marriage, the loss of a job and a full-boar mid-life crisis in-the-making. I laughed, and winced and saw myself in each character in some odd way.
With this book, Tropper places a special shiva chair for the reader, right there in the Foxman living room, so we can laugh, grieve, pass judgment and ponder life’s meaning along with the rest of the family and the eclectic mix of shiva visitors. His characters throw daggers of humor at all the tragic circumstances they find themselves in, reminding us all that humor is the only way to get through life.
I’m a little late to the Jonathan Tropper party since this book came out four years ago and his first book came out in 2000 (Plan B). His books have all been successful, three of which are being turned into major motion pictures, including this one (I suggest waiting until you finish the book though until you read the cast line up so you don’t go into it with any preconceived notions of the characters). Tropper is also a co-creator of a new show on Skinemax called “Banshee.” I’m going to have to turn in to that one.
Here are two of the many passages I highlighted while reading the book:
Add this book to your summer reading list and report back once you’ve read it.
This post was in response to Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop prompt for this week. She’s a pretty hilarious writer too so check her out while you’re at it!