For this month’s book group and next month’s Books and Bars meeting (where the author will be Skpying in; Skype is a verb, now, right?) I read on of the buzzy books from last year, Jonathan Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You. And I laughed. A lot.
Judd Foxman is a 30-something guy who found out his wife was cheating on him shortly before his father dies. Devastated by the breakup of his marriage, he reunites with his very messed up family.
There is no occasion calling for sincerity that the Foxman family won’t quickly diminish or pervert through our own genetically engineered brand of irony and evasion. We banter, quip, and insult our way through birthdays, holidays, weddings, illnesses. Now Dad is dead and Wendy is cracking wise. It serves him right, since he was something of a pioneer at the forefront of emotional repression.
The book reminded me of movies, not of other books. Like Parenthood and Death at a Funeral (the UK version), a disparate family regroups, then sad and hilarious things happen. Unlike those movies, though, the former too sappy and the latter uneven, the book manages to balance its tragic material with a reliably funny comic tone, and I couldn’t stop reading it. Avoid if you are averse to profanity, or graphic sexuality, but check it out if you like dark humor and are in need of a fast, funny read.