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One Last Thing Before I Go: A Novel Paperback – May 28, 2013
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"Tropper’s characters are likably zany and fallible, and perhaps more important, funny. One Last Thing Before I Go is a poignant story about facing death and celebrating life, even when things seem well beyond repair." --Newsweek/The Daily Beast on One Last Thing Before I Go
"The richly talented Tropper (This Is Where I Leave You) has created an acerbic, middle-aged lost soul who will ultimately illuminate the reasons we stick around on this lopsided planet despite significant temptation to let it go. Readers will love Silver and want to throttle him in equal measure. Eminently quotable, hilariously funny, and emotionally draining, this arresting tour de force will entertain well after the book is done." -Library Journal (starred review) on One Last Thing Before I Go
“…a bristling, witty tale of woe that'll make you appreciate whatever good things, no matter how few, have come your way.” –Entertainment Weekly on One Last Thing Before I Go
About the Author
Jonathan Tropper is the New York Times bestselling author of five previous novels; Plan B, The Book of Joe, Everything Changes, How To Talk to a Widower, and This Is Where I Leave You. His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He is also a screenwriter, and the co-creator and executive producer of the HBO/Cinemax television show Banshee (produced by Alan Ball), premiering in 2013.
Top customer reviews
I was moved by this book. I suspect Tropper's goal was to write a novel about the power of impending death and of truth. I believe he succeeded. Silver, the protagonist, is a train wreck of a man. He is divorced, living in an apartment house with a group of other unhappy divorced men and is wracked with guilt about his irresponsible behavior as a husband and father. He had a brief fling with fame as the drummer with a one-hit rock group and his drugs-sex-and rock and roll behavior was his undoing. He has no hopes for a better future. When he discovers he has a bad heart which needs immediate repair he decides to forego the surgery. Impending death frees him and he begins speaking the truth regardless of how much pain and devastation it causes for daughter, ex-wife and others. This truth, however, ultimately brings about powerful, positive change. I found Silver both fascinating and appealing. I suspect the author knows a bit about playing drums and this lent some additional authenticity to the book. Tropper's writing style reminded more than a little of Richard Russo's. It shows a similar patience, fluidity and honesty; although he is not as funny or as textured.
In short, here's another romantic comedy that's missing only the production notes and studio backing. Get me Julia Roberts and Albert Brooks on the phone! But I'm really alright with that. A novel that reads like a movie is usually a sign of a tightly written, dialogue-rich, marvelously descriptive work. It's also indicative of a great beach book.
Light weight? Maybe. But to my mind it's really quite OK to be a writer of fiction who tells an interesting tale really well. My only problem this time out is I never buy the central premise: that the main character is diagnosed with a condition that will kill him if he doesn't get surgery and he decides not to have the surgery. I just don't believe him. He tries to convince the reader and every other character in the book that he's serious. None of us are buying it.
Does he live or die? Buy the book and find out. In the end, I find myself enjoying the journey and caring little for the destination.
One particularly weak aspect of the book, which is abundantly discussed in Ron Charles’ review “Troppers ‘One Last Thing Before I Go’” in The Washington Post, is the tone of the writing, which switches between Silver’s self-pitying reflection and unrealistic small-talk that fills the pages of the novel, whether it be with Casey, his parents, or Jack and Oliver, two equally pitiful divorced men who Silver has befriended. When Casey comes back into Silver’s life to divulge the information that she is pregnant, since (as she tells him) she cares the least about letting him down, four pages are filled with quick back and forth “witty” comebacks thought up too quickly, followed by pages on pages reflecting on his and Casey’s pasts. After Silver refuses medical treatment, there are a countless number of flippant jokes about death thrown at or by Silver from all directions, including from his father, who, although he pushes for Silver to get the surgery, seems to only nudge. Last but not least, Silver is caught time after time spewing overly cheesy declarations of his love for others, such as with his ex-wife Denise, and acknowledgements of his wrongdoings, such as with Casey. Neither of these does he ever fail to do without an audience, whether it be Denise’s fiancé or an entire Bat Mitzvah party.
A second but no less harmful issue in the novel is the lack of any round or developed character other than Silver. Although Casey and Denise both are given chapters that shed light on their inner thoughts, Casey recollecting losing her virginity and Denise thinking over her past marriage, they still never form into much more than appendages of Silver, meant to display all that he has lost. Neither Jack, Oliver, Silver’s parents, Silver’s brother, Denise’s fiancé Rich, nor Silver’s strange and unfounded crush named Lily are expanded on at all, although many of them play varyingly important roles in Silver’s life.
In agreement with Charles’ Washington Post review of the novel, there are surely good ways to write about an empty and haunted people. Books such as Madame Bovary touch on humans who have little meaning in their life, but comparing their eloquence and poignancy to the dry humor and empty characters of One Last Thing Before I Go is almost a cruel joke. Yes, there are undoubtedly humorous and heartwarming parts of the novel. Silver reminisces on past girlfriends and memories of childhood Casey with touching nostalgia and fondness. The playful banter between Silver and the other characters is pleasant and amusing, at least before it becomes overdone. But overall? If you are looking for a cliché and trite quick read with few ups and many downs, One Last Thing Before I Go may satisfy your appetite. Otherwise, the book may not be for you.
First, it was not nearly as funny. Second, the MC - inexplicably called Silver - was just not the lovable loser he was made out to be. And, the reader is beaten over the head with the lovable loser concept. Perhaps in an attempt to make it be true.
Silver's daughter is pregnant, his ex-wife is getting married, and he discovers that he needs surgery, soon, or else he will die. So he decides, eh, I'm never going to be anything more than a lovable loser, guess I'll just go ahead and die. Never mind that his wonderful parents are totally distraught, never mind that his daughter appears to want him in her life, never mind any of it, the story must go on and the story is that Silver would just prefer to die. He knows what changes he'd need to make to have the life he'd like to have, I guess he just doesn't have the energy to make them. Ugh.
The worst of it for me, though, was the quirky movie scene-ness of most of the book. I say, write a book, and if you're lucky enough that it's made into a movie, they can add the stopping-dead-on-the-highway-on-ramp scene, or the sing-your-one-hit-wonder-song-out-of-nowhere-at-some-kid's-bar-mitzvah scene later. Almost all of the scenes in the book felt like they were written to entice a movie producer. Or many of them. Just annoying. Did not love this book. At all.
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For anyone with relationship issues. So that means everyone