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The Book of Joe: A Novel Paperback – January 25, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After Joe Goffman's Bush Falls becomes a runaway bestseller, he never expects to go back to his small Connecticut hometown and face the outrage generated by the dark secrets his autobiographical novel reveals. But when his father suffers a life-threatening stroke, return the unhappy and unfulfilled Joe does, to meet head-on the antipathy waiting for him. Among the Bush Falls locals hellbent on revenge in this breezy sophomore effort by Tropper (Plan B) are deputy sheriff Mouse and ex-con Sean Tallon, both former members of the high school basketball team, as well as the wife of the basketball coach, who dumps a milk shake on Joe the first day he is back in town. Joe also crosses paths with his resentful older brother, Brad; Lucy, the sexy mother of a high school friend; and Carly, the only woman he ever truly loved. At its best, the novel skillfully illustrates the tenderness and difficulties of first love and friendship, exploring the aftermath of Joe's high school relationships with Carly and pals Sammy and Wayne. Fans of Tom Perrotta's sarcastic humor will appreciate Tropper's evocation of both the allure and hypocrisy of smalltown American life, particularly in drug- and alcohol-fueled episodes involving Joe's 19-year-old nephew, Jared, and a grown-up, AIDS-infected Wayne. Frequent pop culture references, particularly to Bruce Springsteen, help move things along briskly and by novel's end, Joe has learned to appreciate the virtues of Bush Falls and realize he's not perfect himself. Despite its charms, however, this boy-who-won't-grow-up novel relies too heavily on canned lines ("she's taking measurements of my soul through her eyes") and easy melodrama.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

After vilifying his hometown and its residents in his thinly veiled first novel, Joe Goffman got rich. The book was a hit, as was the movie that followed, but his new Mercedes and swank New York digs can't save him from having to go home again. After his father suffers a stroke, Joe returns to Bush Falls, Connecticut--and to the adolescence he's never really outgrown. With his father comatose, his childhood best friend dying of AIDS, the great love of his life intent on ignoring him, and the entire town furious at him for slandering them in his novel, Joe's got plenty to deal with. But in spite of his hero's serious problems, Tropper keeps Joe's narration self-deprecatingly funny throughout. The plot is sometimes annoyingly predictable and, sure, it gets a bit sappy, but most readers will be too amused by Tropper's fantastically funny dialogue to care. And as Joe struggles to reconcile himself to his past, the novel proves surprisingly poignant, even tender. A first-rate tale of a thirtysomething's belated coming-of-age. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (January 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385338104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385338103
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Kelly-Girl on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Why I love this book:

1. This book made me laugh. Out loud. A lot. Much to the chagrin of the poor gentleman I was sitting next to on the flight to San Fran. I couldn't stop giggling and doing the silent-shaking-while-trying-to-contain-my-laughter laugh.

2. Despite all the laughter, it's the first book in several years that had me in tears at the end. Major, embarrassing "please don't look at me" tears. So worth it. I think I actually hugged the book at the when I finished the last page.

3. It was well written and totally engaging from page one. It's one of those books you remember in pictures, like you saw it taking place right in front of you, instead of text.

I could go on and on, but I'm at work. Bottom line is, it's a great book, and I promptly bought his next one the same night I finished Book of Joe.
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Format: Paperback
I work at various branches of Gold Coast City Council Libraries and many people request titles of books not realising they've read them before. For some reason publishers change titles for different markets. P.J Tracy's Want to Play is the same book as Monkeerench. Bill Fitzhugh's McJesus is the same novel as both Cross Dressing or Cross + Dress. Yes this book Bush Falls is exaclty the same novel as Jonathan Tropper's The Book of Joe. Under either name this book is a sensational masterpiece so which ever title is cheaper, get that one.

If The Book of Joe (Bush Falls) was a cup of Joe you'd be going straight back for a refill as it is that good. An entertaining light read, the character of Joe Goffman along with the supporting characters are so well written that you just can't stop turning the pages until you reach the last one. Jonathan Tropper's other work although not quite reaching the high masterpiece bench mark this novel sets are also very good.

Joe Goffman hated his small Connecticut town, apart from his final year in high school he had only one friend and not being an athlete had nothing to talk about with his basketball obsessed father. He moved away after high school and struggled as a writer until one day his agent came across a diary sort of story Goffman had written for himself about his backward, one employer, Cougar (basket ball team) worshipping town. He had left nothing out and once published and later made into a blockbuster movie, occupants of his former home town which was now seen as a joke by the rest of the world wanted him dead which was fine with him as he wasn't ever going back. A phone call from his sister in law Cindy one night telling him his father has had a stroke and is in a coma forces him to return and although it has been 17 years the locals have kept their grudge.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Howard Bolling on June 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Lately, the only books I write about are those that really beg me to write about them. Jonathan Tropper's The Book of Joe is one of those books.
It's a safe bet that most of us use our past to fuel our present. Whether dreaming about the glory days or subconsciously trying to atone for things we've done wrong, we somehow define ourselves by who we were as much as who we are. Joe Goffman is a poster child for that definition.
Joe, who has written a wildly successful work of fiction that pretty well trashed everybody in his small home town, is coerced into returning when his father, his only surviving parent, has a stroke. From Joe's less-than-warm reception through the rest of this engaging story, the events of the past provide a context for the searching, self-immolation and eventual re-discovery that comes from seeing if it's really possible to go home again, or if home belongs in the past, and is best left there.
More than a little wry humor wraps Joe's recollections of hormone-filled high school days with the patina of cynicism that intervening years supply. That coating helps to keep the book from descending into the dark, regretful tone that could have marred its enjoyability. You'll laugh; you'll cry (I did).
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on May 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A number of years ago, I was a teacher with student loans to pay, so I got a part time job at a deli. A former classmate, still wearing a jacket with his varsity basketball letter proudly showing for all to see, entered the store. The jacket no longer fit, his build had changed which age tends to do. I said hello and he gave me a look as if to say, "Why should I say hello to a pathetic loser like you?" He then made a comment about how little I accomplished since high school since I must only be slicing turkey breast and roast beef. I wanted to comment but wondered if it was worth it. Perhaps this is why I view Joe Goffman, the main character of THE BOOK OF JOE as almost heroic, as will anyone who felt excluded in high school.
In THE BOOK OF JOE, author Jonathan Tropper challenges the expression made famous by Thomas Wolfe's novel of the same name "You Can't Go Home Again." There is no question that Tropper is indebted to Wolfe, retelling the story from a 2004 perspective, albeit with a more sensuous flair than Wolfe's novel. The novel's hero, or anti-hero, depending on the reader's perspective, is named Joe Goffman. Goffman is a successful novelist who wrote a book set in his hometown and based on events of his senior year in high school. The residents of the town look rather buffoonish, naturally take exception to the book and feel humiliated when the book is made into a film. Perhaps the fact that residents in the town know that the tragic events depicted in Goffman's novel are true, it makes matters worse. Eventually Joe has to return to his hometown when his father becomes ill and his reunion with the town's residents, particularly the venerated basketball coach and his players who regard the coach as a god, is at times comical and at other times tragic.
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