Tuesday, June 26, 2018

This Is Where I Leave You: a very short review

I've been falling behind on my book reviews, time to get with the program!

Up next, by way of my wonderful sister-in-law, is Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel.

This Is Where I Leave You was an extremely popular title about 10 years ago (yes, yes, I know); more recently it was turned into one of the better-reviewed movies of the last few years.

It is, without a doubt, the funniest book about sitting shiva that you will ever read.

Removing the qualifier, it is one of the funnier books that I've read in a fair while.

It's an extremely lively read, at turns rowdy, rude, crude, shocking, heartbreaking, and heartfelt. It's not for the faint of heart, or for the easily offended, but if you don't fall into either of those categories you'll surely want to spend your time with Tropper's whirlwind tour of life, death, and everything in between.

Let's, um, have just a little taste, shall we?

Peter Applebaum is back to comfort my mother at close range. There are other people over, attempting to visit with her, but he doesn't register them. He is a hammer, she is a nail, and the rest of them are screws. He's had a haircut since we last saw him, almost military in its closeness, and he has shaved the dark, gangrenous fuzz off his earlobes. His cologne fills the room like bad news. He is pulling out all the stops, Applebaum is. He has not many more years of sexual function ahead of him, and there is no time for the subtlety of a slow flirtation. He pats Mom's arms, takes her hand in both of his, and strokes it relentlessly. That's just his way. Mom tries to draw some of the other visitors into the conversation, tries to retrieve her hand, but Applebaum holds the line, talking and stroking, his bushy eyebrows unfurling like caterpillars.

What a marvel Tropper is! Every sentence, every word bristles with energy! Just when you catch your breath from one blow ("gangrenous fuzz off his earlobes") the next is right on its way ("like bad news"). And, even when the words are bizarre and you're sure that's not what Tropper meant ("strokes it relentlessly"?), your sub-conscious gives you a kick in the pants and confirms that yes, oh yes indeed, "relentlessly" describes it perfectly!

I have no idea what Tropper's other books are like. Are they all equally thrumming with heat and life?

If so, I'll surely be picking up the next, and the next, and the next.

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