Wednesday, June 19, 2013

ONE LAST THING BEFORE I GO by Jonathan Tropper

Both of the Jonathan Tropper books I've read have been about men in crises.  In this one, Drew Silver had his moment in the sun as the drummer of a one-hit-wonder rock band.  Their claim to fame is the song "Rest in Pieces," and now, ironically, Silver has opted to let nature take its course rather than have the surgery required to fix his aorta, which may blow up at any moment.  He's a middle-aged doughboy of a screw-up, feels that he's squandered every chance he's had to make something of his life, and deems himself incapable of making the necessary improvements.  His ex-wife is on the verge of marrying a much better man, but his 18-year-old daughter confides in him that she's newly pregnant.  What really causes chaos, though, since his aortic malfunction, is that he unintentionally verbalizes his every thought, exposing secrets and indiscretions at inappropriate times to unsuspecting listeners.  One could argue that this naked honesty is a good thing, but really, some things are better left unsaid.  I love this author, with his snappy dialog and quirky characters, including the other residents of the Versailles, a sort of long-term hotel for divorced men, where nubile college girls inexplicably come to hang out by the pool.  I didn't say it was realistic.  On the other hand, I can well imagine this guy, who has been a rotten father and husband and has let himself go, as still being undeservedly lovable.  Offering a glimpse of redemption is fellow musician Lori, perhaps equally as lonely and unfulfilled as Silver, who sings and plays the guitar for children at the library.  Some may say that the novel hangs on Silver's decision to have or not have the life-saving surgery that he needs.  I say that the real question is will he or will he not ever get the courage to approach Lori. 

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