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This is Where I Leave YouA few years ago I received an email from a bookseller with whom I’d traded a few friendly messages.  This time she wrote because she was bursting with excitement over a novel she’d read and she felt sure it was the sort of thing I’d like.  The novel was The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper, and it was, at the time, the best book I’d read in a good long while.  I’ve been a huge Tropper fan ever since, and I have to say that his new book, This is Where I Leave You, is easily among the best of what is already a distinguished body of work.  Also, his books are screamingly hilarious, touching, very human, written with a kind of skill that appears effortless but we all know isn’t.  This is one of those books that will keep you up way past your bedtime, not with plot twists and surprise developments, but because the writing is so incredibly absorbing and enjoyable.  Did I mention his books are screamingly hilarious?

He seems like a nice guy

He seems like a nice guy

Like many of his novels, This is Where I Leave You, places vivid and funny characters in fragile and emotionally fraught situations.  In this case it’s Judd Foxman who is still recovering from a humiliating break-up with his wife (he catches her cheating on him with his boss, a brazenly Howard Stern–esque morning DJ) when his father dies and he must return home from the funeral.  Judd had a distant and strained relationship with his father, and relations with his mother, a famous child psychologist, are not much better.  His two brothers are both, though very differently, difficult people, and while he gets along well with his sister, she has marriage problems of her own. 

It all sounds overbearing and depressing, but it never even gets close.  Tropper pulls this off with humorous wind-ups, deliciously awkward situations, emotional confrontation, funny set-pieces, and a healthy smattering of restoration comedy material.  It is part of Tropper’s genius that he manages to find the perfect balance between funny and poignant, and never does the humor threaten to devolve to farce.  Sentence by sentence and page by page, this book is an absolute delight to read, and it left me wishing that there were more books like this in the world. 

TDCIf you buy only one hardcover this year it should be The Devil’s Company.  No about it.  That’s a great book.  But if you buy more than one, top of this list should be This is Where I Leave You.  No joke.  This gets the absolute highest recommendation I can give a book not written by me.

2 Responses to “”

  1. You’re good at this blogging business!

  2. gary kaplan says:

    Book of Joe was as good as you wrote!!

    Little close too home in a few spots, but definately hard to put down.

    Look forward to your comic books.

    Best, Gary

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