Wednesday, September 29, 2010

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper

I can see how this book, alternately funny and poignant, would be a good candidate for a movie, but it's an even better novel. Judd Foxman and his three siblings, along with their stiletto-wearing, breast-enhanced mother, are sitting shiva for their recently deceased father. This means that the five of them, plus their families, will be spending the next week in the same house. Judd and his beloved wife, Jen, however, have separated, after Judd discovered her in their bed with his boss. Judd, nursing an acutely broken heart, is somewhat lost after the demise of his marriage, but his brothers are not any better off. His older brother Paul harbors a mountain of pent-up resentment against Judd, blaming him for an unfortunate encounter with a dog, which destroyed Paul's plans for a professional baseball career. The youngest brother Phil is basically a screw-up that delivers outrageous fabrications about his current occupation to anyone who asks. Wendy, their sister, manages to steer clear of most of the mayhem, but there is so much emotion that needs to be aired, particularly between Judd and Paul, that plenty of sparks fly. Scattered among the fistfights and slamming doors are some very funny, memorable moments, including some potty humor, some hilarious banter with children in which the word "donkey" is substituted for the word "ass," and a pot smoking scene in the synagogue. Judd occasionally throws out some bitterly honest remarks that both shock and amuse, and almost every night he has nightmares of having an artificial leg. Then one night he dreams that his father removes the prosthetic to reveal a perfectly uninjured leg. My guess is that this dream symbolizes how broken his life is and that this family reunion in honor of his father somehow has the potential to help him restore order. Phil's current girlfriend, Tracy—an older woman and Phil's former shrink—offers Judd some very sage advice that we can only hope he has the good sense to follow.
Amazon: 4 stars (190 reviews)
Barnes & Noble: 4 stars (73 reviews)

1 comment:

grogana said...

I loved this book! We tried some earlier books of his and they were kind of trial runs for this one. He nails it here.