Flashback Friday: This is Where I Leave You

This is Where I leave youWith one week (and impatiently counting) until the film release of This is Where I Leave You, I thought I would suggest, beg, demand that any of you who have not yet read Jonathan Tropper’s outstanding dark comedic novel should do so before seeing the movie.

Need more persuasion? Here’s my review from August 3, 2012.

I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh out loud, but this one did. It also made me blush, got me a little choked up at times, and introduced me to another author whose work I will actively seek.

Forced to take part in a traditional Jewish 7-day shiva for his father, Judd Foxman ping-pongs between his hilariously dysfunctional siblings, his larger than life newly widowed mother, and the agony of his failed marriage. By using the shiva as a tactic to force intimacy (or at least proximity) on his characters, Tropper provides the perfect background for high drama.

“Childhood feels so permanent, like it’s the entire world, and then one day it’s over and you’re shoveling wet dirt onto your father’s coffin, stunned at the impermanence of everything.”

Tropper brilliantly avoids overplaying his dramatic hand. Instead he inserts some borderline slapstick comedy for Judd and his family. I wasn’t sure in the opening chapter, which contains the funniest version of marital infidelity I’ve ever read (burning testicles and all), if Tropper could maintain that level of pitch-perfect dark comedy, but he does.

He finds the humor in life’s tragic situations, without ever lessening their importance.

“…the first thing you do at the end is reflect on the beginning. Maybe it’s some form of reverse closure, or just the basic human impulse toward sentimentality, or masochism, but as you stand there shell-shocked in the charred ruins of your life, your mind will invariably go back to the time when it all started. And even if you didn’t fall in love in the eighties, in your mind it will feel like the eighties, all innocent and airbrushed, with bright colors and shoulder pads and Pat Benetar or The Cure on the soundtrack.”

As I was reading, I could picture the film version, cast with the finest 30-somethings in Hollywood, a kind of Big Chill for the 21st Century. I believe Tropper is already at work on an adaptation. I sure hope Hollywood doesn’t manage to wreck the brilliant balance of a little raunchy, a lot funny, and perfectly heartfelt that Tropper has achieved.

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25 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: This is Where I Leave You

  1. I just won tickets to see this. I’m about to commit the ultimate book crime: I haven’t read the book. Thinking about wandering to the bookstore at lunch and grabbing it – should have enough time to get it read by Wednesday right? It’s been on my list forever – this might be just the push I need to get it read.

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  2. I love this flashback idea! It’s weird you could envision the movie even then, and here we are a week away from its release! I absolutely loved this book and it kept me laughing out loud the whole way through, which is pretty rare for a book! Have you read any more of his books since then? I definitely want to keep going!

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    • Yes Amy, I’m trying to get to all of them (except Plan B, which Tropper begged people not to read). This is my favorite so far but I also loved One Last Thing Before I Go. I’ve also read and enjoyed Everything Changes and How to Talk to a Widower.
      I’m glad you liked the flashback..I have a lot of writing that I never blogged or maybe that just seems timely. Once in a while, it makes sense to pull it out.

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  3. I loved this book when I read it 2 years ago. He beats the heel out of Nicky Hornby who I can’t stand. I’d love to pick up another one by him really soon but I have a TBR from here to China that I4d like to make a good dent in before the end of the year. However I do have 2 of his novels waiting for me.

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  4. Pingback: Book vs. Film: This Is Where I Leave You | The Paperback Princess

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