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How to Talk to a Widower: A Novel (Bantam Discovery) Paperback – June 24, 2008


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How to Talk to a Widower: A Novel (Bantam Discovery) + Everything Changes: A Novel + The Book of Joe: A Novel
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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Discovery
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385338910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385338912
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A portrait of a modern guy in crisis, Tropper's third novel (Everything Changes; The Book of Joe) follows Doug Parker, whose life is frozen into place at 29 when Hailey, his wife of two years, is killed in a plane crash. Unable to leave the tony suburban house they once shared, he spends his days reliving their brief marriage from the moment he found her sobbing in his office over troubles with her first husband. At the same time, Doug's magazine column about grieving for his wife has made him irresistible to the media (book deals, television spots and the like are proffered) and to a wide array of women who find him "slim, sad and beautiful." Though stepson Russ is getting in trouble at school and Doug's pregnant twin sister, Claire, moves in, no amount of crying to strippers can keep Doug from the temptations of his best friend's wife or Russ's guidance counselor. Alternately flippant and sad, Tropper's book is a smart comedy of inappropriate behavior at an inopportune time. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Mixing pathos and comedy in equal measure, Tropper (Everything Changes, 2005) tells the story of "slim, sad, and beautiful" Doug Parker. A year after his wife Hailey's death in a plane crash, 29-year-old widower Doug is still grieving heavily and has abandoned all pretense at civility and discretion. When people ask him how he's doing, he makes the mistake of actually telling them the truth, which inevitably includes a catalog of his antidepressant medications and his ongoing nightmares. Yet people keep making demands on him: his sweet, emotionally bereft stepson wants Doug to adopt him; Doug's twin sister, Claire, wants to set him up on a series of blind dates; and his agent is pressuring him to write a book as a spin-off of his wildly popular magazine column on mourning, but Doug refuses to become the "poster boy for young widowers." With superb comic timing, Tropper keeps the sappiness at bay by juxtaposing tender scenes that often feature Doug's reminiscences about meeting and marrying his wife with very funny, often vitriolic dialogue. Wilkinson, Joanne
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Jonathan Tropper is the author of How to Talk to a Widower, Everything Changes, The Book of Joe, and Plan B. He lives with his family in Westchester, New York, where he teaches writing at Manhattanville College.

Customer Reviews

What I love about Jonathan Tropper is his gift for language.
The Attentive Reader
If you're looking for a light, entertaining, very well written read, I highly recommend this book.
J. Luiz
I've read all of Jonathan Tropper's books and this one has now become my favorite.
Lizardgrace

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By K. Hinton VINE VOICE on July 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Doug Parker is a widower. A beautiful, slim, sad man who is obsessed with mourning his wife and being consumed with grief. A year after his wife's death in a plane crash, Doug finds himself unwilling to move on. His job as a magazine writer affords him the sort of solitary lifestyle wherein he doesn't need to even leave his house to go to work. He can sit at home, drown his sorrows in Jack Daniels, avoid phone calls from his friends and family, and mourn. Because what else is a 29-year-old widower supposed to do?

Enter Doug's twin sister, Claire. Claire, notorious for her potty mouth and unwillingness to take no for an answer, is determined that Doug get himself back on the market, the first step of which is to get him laid. Temporarily moving in with him, Claire sets out to find Doug a companion among the rich, suburban divorcees in his neighborhood. Along with Claire comes Doug's stepson, Russ. Since his mother's death, Russ has been getting into more and more trouble at school, smoking pot, and getting tattoos. Though Doug has semi-washed his hands of the situation (he isn't really Russ's stepfather anymore, is he?), he can't help but feel partially responsible as he watches the boy falling apart. Together, these three learn to navigate the twists and turns of grief, familial obligation, and moving on.

When the book starts out Doug is one of the saddest, most broken characters I've ever read, but his wit, self-deprecating charm, and fierce love for his wife make him the sort of man who you just want to put back together again. My heart broke for the shattered remnants of his happiness and, over the course of the novel as I watched him slowly rebuild what he'd lost, I only became more emotionally involved with the story.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By JoeV VINE VOICE on July 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Having read and enjoyed this author's latest book, This Is Where I Leave You, I picked up this earlier Tropper novel. The protagonist - our widower - is 29 year old Doug Parker, a somewhat likeable ne'er do well, who is a year into grieving the tragic death of his wife. Doug is not handling his loss well, wallowing in self-pity, (and booze), and barely paying attention. The reader spends a lot of time inside Doug's head - actually too much - co-basting in his grief, privy to his happy memories and given a front row seat to his sexual fantasies.

In the real world, Doug has a teenage stepson - the dearly departed Mrs. Parker was 11 years older than her hubby - who shares both Doug's loss and his emotional maturity level. Doug's comedic dysfunctional family is very concerned about him and in their own special way decides to help him out of his funk. This is all very reminiscent of This Is Where I Leave You. In fact this novel reads like an unpolished earlier version of that book and unfortunately, is nowhere near as entertaining.

The specific differences between the two stories are superficial, otherwise the books' plots, characters, family dynamics and even the dialog are very, very much the same. Both read like screenplays - again for the same movie - but with the Widower's protagonist less likeable; the "flow" less even and the "jokes" less funny. (The silly fairy tale ending to Widower doesn't help either.)

So my suggestion - skip this book and read the finished product, This Is Where I Leave You.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on March 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"I had a wife. Her name was Hailey. Now she's gone. And so am I."

Doug Parker is a twenty-nine-year-old widower facing the most painful thing a person could go through: he has lost significant other to a plane crash. His grief runs deep, and he misses his wife more than anything. He is angry with the world, and he believes in no one or in anything. As if his own problems weren't bad enough, he has a stepson going through his own grieving issues. His family is beyond dysfunctional. His twin sister is pregnant and has left her husband; his younger sister is marrying to a man she met when Doug's wife died; his father has a bad case of Dementia and his mother, a former actress, deals with everything by popping tranquilizers like they were candy. Life seems pointless for Doug, but not for the people around him. In his upper-class Connecticut neighborhood, he has become something of a celebrity and a babe magnet. Single women seek him out, desperate housewives seduce him. A struggling writer, he once wrote a magazine column called "How to Talk to a Movie Star." In his grief, his column became "How to Talk to a Widower." And his career seems promising all of a sudden. His columns have become so popular that publishers are offering him gigantic book deals. But none of that matters to Doug. In his mind, he's a screw-up. Always has been, always will be. The one good thing in his life -- his beautiful older wife Hailey -- is gone forever. What is the point of everything else?

Jonathan Tropper is a great writer. His novels are edgy and cutting edge -- his language dark, frank and at times brutal. He is often compared to Nick Hornby, but he's got a great style of his own that makes him stand out among other "lad lit" writers.
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