Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Report #124 - This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Book 48 of 52
Page count 339

What a wonderful book.

Ordinarily I don't gravitate to literary fiction, not enough happens, but this one was a delight to read.  It was also made into a film that I am looking forward to seeing. 

Judd Foxman's father has passed away and the family has been asked to sit shiva in his memory.  At the same time his marriage is also falling apart.  The ritual brings his entire family together, for a week of conflict, resentment and, ultimately, understanding.

Both my daughter and wife have read it, loved it, and wanted to hear my take on it.  Jonathan Tropper writes with the honest voice of every man.  This is an author who understands how to articulate the way men think and view the world.

Although the foundation of the story is completely sad it is an uplifting, funny and honest look at relationships.    Through the forced proximity of sitting shiva we get to see the cracks in the lives of everyone else.  It is the distance we keep between each other that promotes the belief that other people have their shit together better than we do.  Tropper reminds us that everybody's lives are a mess.

Tropper also has a way of turning a phrase that I fell in love with.  Here is how he opens the book:

"Dad's Dead," Wendy says offhandedly, like it's happened before, like it happens every day.  It can be grating, this act of hers, to be utterly unfazed at all times, even in the face of tragedy.  "He died two hours ago."
"How's Mom doing?"
"She's Mom, you know?  She wanted to know how much to tip the coroner."

In another moment Judd describes just how hurt and angry he is his wife's lover (who happens to be his own boss):
 "Wade could not get enough pancreatic cancer to satisfy me."

These are dark, funny and insightful lines and the book is filled with such gems.

Highly recommended.

Jonathan Tropper's website is HERE.

Jonathan Tropper

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