Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"This is Where I Leave You" by Jonathan Tropper

I'd heard about this book from several bloggers, though I can't quite recall what it was that convinced me I needed to read it (which is even more true now that I've finished reading). But, though I can't say what first piqued my interest, I found it a good read with (for once) a cast of  characters who aren't quirky just for the sake of being quirky.

Judd Foxman and his siblings are roped into sitting shiva after their father's funeral. ("All seven days? That's hard-core.") Complex family dynamics are rendered comically bizarre by a lack of those emotional filters that aid in smoothing out normal human relationships. It's difficult for the Foxman family members to get along under the best of circumstances, and these aren't the best of circumstances. In their raw emotional state of grief, thrust into close quarters for an extended period of time (which, for this family, is anything longer than five minutes) a variety of eccentric issues bubble to the surface, causing an ever-changing stink worse than Uncle Stan's farts. Oh, and it doesn't help that Judd's wife has just left him. For his boss. And she's pregnant. With Judd's child.

"The past is prelude and the future is a black hole . . . " That's not the most encouraging notion, but if you've ever hurled yourself into the unknown, you know that's exactly what it feels like when all you can do is hope that you won't be stretched out like a mile-long piece of spaghetti, or be compressed into something one-millionth the size of a bedbug's eyeball, or vanish into a singularity. It's much better to think that, though I may not have fourteen grand in a shopping bag, anything can happen.


Kathy said...

P.S. Like the previous book, this one was only $3.97. But unlike the previous book, I think I wouldn't have minded paying more for this one.

Marce said...

Many bloggers have convinced me to try this one also. I wonder if you found the humor interesting also. I look forward to trying this one but I will have to be in the right mood.

Becky (Page Turners) said...

Although this might sound a bit crazy, I love what you said about family relationships being complex because of the lack of filters that otherwise guide human relationships.

I have often wondered why family seem to intereact in a way you would never interact with anyone else and that is exactly it! Because you all know each other from birth and you are all family, the normal rules just aren't exercised - often to everyones detriment if you ask me :-)

Anonymous said...

Tropper is a really fun writer to read. I enjoyed Book of Joe more than this one, although this has gotten better reviews. I think he's one of those writers where the first book you read by him will be your favorite. At least that's my theory. I really enjoy Tropper's dark sense of humor, especially when it comes to family.

Ti said...

I can't tell if you liked this one or not. I remember when this one first came out. It seemed like something I'd like, but then after a while it didn't pique my interest anymore. Did you like it? Would you recommend it?

Booksnyc said...

My bookclub read this a number of years ago and I am so glad they chose it because I thought it was great and definitely want to read more by the author.

Kathy said...

Marce and Ti--I wish I'd tried to answer your questions last year--I would have had a much better chance at it back then. Now it's been too long since I read the book. But I will venture to say this to you, Marce: I must have enjoyed the humor or I would have complained about it; and this to you, Ti: I think the book hit a little too close to home for me, so it would have been difficult to give you an objective answer. I bet that's why you found it difficult to determine whether I liked the book. I probably found it difficult to determine myself.

Becky--I totally agree--family is often taken for granted and treated with less respect than they deserve just because most times one feels that family members don't have a choice about sticking around. Here's another interesting thing I've been learning: many people are better off not limiting their definition of "family" to those they're related to by blood.

tbs--I'm not sure I've even heard of Book of Joe but maybe I need to look it up.

Booksnyc--have you gotten around to doing that? If so, you should tell me which ones you would recommend. (Book of Joe?)