on 18 June 2011
An excellent read. As usual Jonathan Tropper succeeds in making you laugh one minute and cry the next. This story is about Judd Foxman, a man with enough personal problems to last him a lifetime who then loses his father.The expectation of being with his mother and siblings as they mourn for the week is seen as a huge challenge to face.
This book about life, love, and a man who finds himself spending seven days with his dysfunctional family is both amusing and poignant.
I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.
on 4 August 2014
Originally published in 2010, Jonathan Tropper's novel This Is Where I Leave You is soon to be released as a major motion picture starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Connie Britton.
It tells the story of Judd Foxman, a man in his early 30s going through several setbacks including the discovery of his wife sleeping with his boss. Whilst all this is occurring, Judd must go home for Shiva following the death of his father.
This means sharing a room with his dysfunctional family; his mother, Hilary, a noted celebrity therapist; his two brothers, Paul and Philip and his sister, Wendy and all their significant others and offspring, The premise of having a family who do not communicate stuck in a room together where they have to grief as one is a common thread in American literature and comedy, making this novel ripe for the impending big screen treatment.
However, what is so refreshing about the novel is how expertly Tropper has convincingly rendered the dysfunction and disintegration of the modern American family in the modern age. His ear for dialogue is impressive and provides a real zip to proceedings which allowed this reader to not stop turning the page; if cast correctly, the delivery in the movie could be golden. Especially during the Shiva scenes themselves where Tropper's cynical observant eye is at its most uproarious. At times, this reader was laughing out loud not just from dialogue but from the situation they are presented in.
Yet you can tell Tropper wants his characters to triumph, the depiction of brain injury neighbour Horry is particularly well done with great restraint and dignity. Yet Horry is given some of the better lines in the book.
When reading the book, two famous old adages came to mind. You cannot pick your family and with friends like these who needs enemies. There are a few well handled set pieces such as the scenes between Judd and old flame Penny, and in Judd the author has created one of those fine comic creations that is both cynic and soft around the edges, and the book never becomes over sentimental when it so easily could, he author who has also written How To Talk To A Widower, is far too optimistic for that.
This Is Where I Leave You is out now on paperback from Orion Publishing
on 24 February 2010
Having read all of Tropper's previous books, I eagerly anticipated the release of "This is where I Leave You." Although I really enjoyed reading the book, I found it a wee bit disappointing. This was mainly my fault, because I was constantly measuring it against "How to Talk to a Widower," which was a really hard act to follow. Taking his new novel on its own merits, however, it is definitely worth reading. It has a decent storyline, and the characters, as ever, are vividly described. My interest dipped on a few pages near the middle, and I wondered if the story had lost its way, but that was just a glitch in an otherwise excellent read. It is one of those few books that I wanted to read till it was finished, but at the same time didn't want it to end. I suppose that's as good an endorsement as any. As the storyline progressed, I expected a disappointingly neat ending, so was pleasantly surprised when it ended with... but you really need to read it yourself without me spoiling it for you! If you are a Tropper fan, put "Widower" out of your head and read this on its own merits. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Jonathan Tropper deals with some very serious subjects in this novel, yet I found myself laughing out loud many times. Tropper in no way trivialises death, adultery and violence amongst other things, he just relates them in a down-to-earth, human way, in ways that I would guess many readers will relate to.
Bringing together a fairly dysfunctional family to sit Shiva for seven days is a very clever way of introducing the whole family to the reader. All together in one room, in fact, in one story creates a feeling of total mayhem and chaos, but unpicking each character and understanding their behaviour is easily done and although some of them are downright awful, most of them have their own quirks and likeability factor.
Totally entertaining all the way through, interspersed here and there with some strong language and sexual scenes, but these really do only add to the quality of the story. It's fast-paced, often dialogue-driven, incredibly funny yet sad underneath - the story of a family getting to grips with old grudges and new chapters.
on 8 August 2009
The author is an extremely fine writer - it's not the slightest surprise that he teaches writing, because he's clearly enormously accomplished in his craft - who has managed to turn what could have been a rather dull and depressing topic into a comic masterpiece. The story is simple enough - the protagonist has just discovered that his wife has been having a torrid affair, and is simultaneously forced to sit shiva for his deceased father, which brings him into uncomfortably close contact with his immediate and largely dysfunctional family. Despite tackling numerous serious matters, this book is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny in several places, and you find yourself reading it with a smile on your face most of the time. My only adverse comment is that he seems to be unfamiliar with the usage of the verb 'to comprise', adding a redundant 'of' a couple of times - the word 'comprises' means 'consists of'. Other than that, excellent.
It takes a rare talent to write a novel covering a very short time span, with a plot where nothing much happens, but Tropper has carried this one off beautifully.
A huusband and father dies, and his family decide to sit shiva (a Jewsh ritual in which the bereaved family receive friends and condolences) for a week following his death. The story is told in the first person by Judd, one of the sons, and it follows the events of that week. There is Mom, who seems amazingly relaxed considering the circumstances, and who harbours her own secret; son Judd, recently separated from his wife, who has left him for his boss; daughter, Wendy, and her small children and insufferable husband; son Paul and his wife Alice, who is desperately trying for a baby; and the baby of the family, Phillip, and his much older girlfriend. Relationships shift, there is grief and laughter and some sex (some reviewers have complained abotu the amount of sex in this book, but such sex as there is neither gratuitous nor out of place).
This novel is beautifully written. In places very funny, at times sad, affectionate - it has everything. The writing flows, and towards the end I had to ration my reading so as not to finish it too quickly. If you are after a fast-moving, exciting read, then maybe this is not for you. But if you enjoy first class writing, warm characters and a very human storyline, then please read it. You will not be disappointed.
on 11 July 2011
Well written dark comedy. It has it's funny moments and is hard to put down, however some of the sexual imagery is too explicit, something in which is tolerable, but when it is every other page, it becomes tedious.
Naturally as a reader, we all look for a solution to a story or a summary, maybe a lesson learned. With this book you don't get any of these, leaving the only question to this slightly depressing book being "What was the point of that"
on 2 July 2013
The premise of this book is great - a death, a family reunited in grief, confronting past and present issues - and I really enjoyed the first chapters, with their tragicomic flare. But the more I read the more situations and characters became improbable, while I slowly detached myself from their preoccupations. By the end I couldn't wait for them to go away, back to their miserable lives, and didn't really care about any of them. Least of all Judd Foxman, who as the book progressed, showed himself as immature and neurotic. The settings became repetitive, with the flashbacks a welcome relief from the boredom of the shiva scenes, and the dialogue, while witty and sharp, was unrealistic and uniformed, giving the sense that it wasn't really the characters who spoke, but the author himself. A good idea that somehow got lost in the execution.
on 23 April 2010
i have bought and kept all Jonathan Tropper's novels (don't always keep books , most get recycled to charity - i have to know I will want to reread to warrant keeping them) .. he has his own 'voice' and an unusual emotional intelligence for a male author I find .. would recommend him to anyone who relishes an original story , a good dose of reality and a measure of humour.
on 3 January 2015
Wickedly funny journey of self discovery, This Is Where I Leave You is a week long visit with the family that is the stuff of nightmares. Judd Foxman's walks in on his wife and boss in his bed, ending his decade long marriage, as well as his career. His father has died, and requested his wife and four children sit shiva for seven days. Bruised and broken, he finds himself sitting on the hard shiva chair, in the midst of his snarky family, where secrets surface, rocking his world and making him reevaluate the relationships with his siblings as well redefine the truths that have been the backbone of his life. Jonathan Tropper taps in on the disconnect of our culture, the failure of communication, the selfish quest for self gratification. Everyone is a loser, each one abandoning the hopes and dreams of youth, caught in a cosmic twilight zone of never wanting to grow up. Paul is bitter after losing his chance at professional baseball due to a grievous injury, Wendy yearns for her first love; pinched out when he became disabled, Phillip the overindulged baby of the family refuses to grow up, and lastly Judd mourns the perfect life he lost, refusing to acknowledge it was nothing but an illusion, after all. Throughout the book, the distant siblings bond, learning the blood is indeed thicker than water, and while they may not understand themselves, their family knows and loves them no matter what. This was a marvelous book. Funny, fast moving, and achingly sweet. This is a story about loyalty and love, redemption and forgiveness. Sometimes we need a little help from our loved ones to help ourselves.