Amazon Best of the Month, August 2009: Jonathan Tropper
writes compulsively readable, laugh-out-loud funny novels, and his fifth book, This Is Where I Leave You
is his best yet. Judd Foxman is oscillating between a sea of self-pity and a "snake pit of fury and resentment" in the aftermath of the explosion of his marriage, which ended "the way these things do: with paramedics and cheesecake." Foxman is jobless (after finding his wife in bed with his boss) and renting out the basement of a "crappy house" when he is called home to sit shiva for his father--who, incidentally, was an atheist. This of course means seven days in his parent's house with his exquisitely dysfunctional family, including his mom, a sexy, "I've-still-got-it" shrink fond of making horrifying TMI statements; his older sister, Wendy, and her distracted hubby and three kids; his snarky older brother, Paul, and his wife; and his youngest brother, Phillip, the "Paul McCartney of our family: better-looking than the rest of us, always facing a different direction in pictures, and occasionally rumored to be dead." Tropper is wickedly funny, a master of the cutting one-liner that makes you both cringe and crack up. But what elevates his novels and makes him a truly splendid writer is his ability to create fantastically flawed, real
characters who stay with you long after the book is over. Simultaneously hilarious and hopeful, This Is Where I Leave You
is as much about a family's reckoning as it is about one man's attempt to get it together. The affectionate, warts-and-all portrayal of the Foxmans will have fans wishing for a sequel (and clamoring for all things Tropper). --Daphne Durham
From Publishers Weekly
Tropper returns with a snappy and heartfelt family drama/belated coming-of-age story. Judd Foxman's wife, Jen, has left him for his boss, a Howard Stern–like radio personality, but it is the death of his father and the week of sitting shivah with his enjoyably dysfunctional family that motivates him. Jen's announcement of her pregnancy—doubly tragic because of a previous miscarriage—is followed by the dramas of Judd's siblings: his sister, Wendy, is stuck in an emotionless marriage; brother Paul—always Judd's defender—and his wife struggle with infertility; and the charming youngest, Phillip, attempts a grown-up relationship that only highlights his rakishness. Presided over by their mother, a celebrated parenting expert despite her children's difficulties, the mourning period brings each of the family members to unexpected epiphanies about their own lives and each other. The family's interactions are sharp, raw and often laugh-out-loud funny, and Judd's narration is unflinching, occasionally lewd and very keen. Tropper strikes an excellent balance between the family history and its present-day fallout, proving his ability to create touchingly human characters and a deliciously page-turning story. (Aug.)
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