Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book 20. This is Where I Leave You

This is another May book, I read two Troppers in quick succession because I loved this, my first foray into his work, so freaking much. It absolutely slayed me. I can't remember if I was reading this on a plane of if I was at home. Either way, I was laughing out loud.

Let me say I have no idea what led me to Jonathan Tropper, but I know I bought this book in part because of the bright lettering on the book jacket. Yes, I am that person. Further I didn't even get the actual book, I bought it on the Kindle. So I guess that makes me an even bigger "that person". Book buying habits aside, this guy is awesome.

In this, his fifth book, we meet Judd Foxman. He has been called home from his miserable life to shit Shiva for his deceased Father, an atheist. Judd is unemployed after finding his wife in bed with his boss. He is currently renting a crappy basement apartment so the prospect of sitting Shiva for a week with his family doesn't seem to be the worst thing to happen to him. He arrives to his childhood home and finds his sister Wendy, her disengaged husband and their three children, his older bother Paul and his wife who is experiencing fertility problems (cue the jealousy of Wendy and her children and "sex on demand" with the baby monitor on for all in the Shiva room [totally not Jewish so I have no clue what this is called] to hear), and the eventual arrival of baby brother Phillip and his girlfriend (much older) of the month, his life coach. All of this goes without mentioning his Mother a child rearing expert who chronicled the best and worst of her children's youthful mistakes in several books. Horrid sentences aside (mine, not his) there is not a single character you are introduced to in this book that is not an integral part of the story. Tropper does a wonderful job capturing the nuances of a normal (highly dysfunctional) family with biting one liners and just a fabulous sense of humour (extreme sarcasm). THe character's stories are all wonderfully interwoven and as a reader you care about the resolution of their problems.

In retrospect, I think I enjoyed this book so much not only because of the humour but because each of the characters grows by the end. In many books, or maybe it is just the mystery crap I read, the characters are the same in the beginning as they are in the end. No one seems to learn anything. Not true here. One last thing, Tropper really managed to capture that hyperventilating inducing funny shit at a totally in appropriate times. I kept flashing to my Grandfather's funeral and the Minister(Pastor?) going on and on and on about my cousins (wonderful Baptists). Nary a word was spoken about my side of the family (beer drinking heathens). While this was happening my Mother kept poking me and cracking up. I was DYING. See, as I tell this it comes off as blah blah, not so funny. With Tropper at the helm these events come to life and make you guffaw aloud. Long and short of it, if you like sarcasm and family dynamics, this guy is for you.

I also read How to Talk to a Widower. I will not bother reviewing it because it is very much like This is Where I Leave You. I will say, Widower was every bit as good as This is Where I Leave You. Though it was similar so I wouldn't recommend reading them back to back. It would be a shame to get burned out on this author.

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