Book Review: One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

I am a huge fan of an author by the name of Jonathan Tropper, and I just finished his latest book. A few weeks ago Tropper released One Last Thing Before I Go which is his sixth novel since he debuted with his first novel Plan B in 2001. I have read them all and this one ranks near the top of his work. Each of his books center around flawed but lovable male characters. Tropper has perfectly mapped the male mind, portrays it with a snipper’s accuracy and provides us with a guy equivalent to chick-lit.

If you have read his previous book, the uproarious comedy This is Where I Leave You, (currently in production to be released as a feature motion picture) you will certainly be coming to his latest work with high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed with his new release, but I have to say that his previous book is on an all together higher level. Evidently Ron Charles of The Washington Post, was disappointed and criticized Tropper’s new book as being one of those “stories about white guys who just can’t seem to figure out why their lives aren’t going better.” I disagree with Mr. Charles’ characterization and I would recommend Tropper’s latest work as a deftly written, quirky, witty and often poignant story of a broken man with a broken heart (literally, a heart on the verge of failing) searching for a way to fix the many wrongs he has been responsible for. The thing is, he is afraid that fixing his heart won’t necessarily fix the man or solve his problems.

Drew Silver was a drummer with “The Bent Daisies,” a rock group, and had some relative success with a song that he himself had penned. As the book opens however, the “Daisies” have long disbanded, he is seven years divorced, his ex-wife is about to marry a doctor who Silver can’t bring himself to dislike and his 18-year-old daughter tells him that she is pregnant and admits that she confided in him largely because he is the one person she is the least concerned about letting down. These disappointments get added to an ever growing list.

Silver has a medical episode that lands him in the hospital and he discovers that he has a damaged aorta that is systematically shredding itself and will at some point catastrophically rupture, and if he doesn’t have it repaired right away he will definitely die.  The man who is in line to take the place as husband to Silver’s ex and step into the role of father to Silver’s pregnant daughter is the man who can also perform the life-preserving heart operation. But Silver refuses the surgery—opting to let nature take its course—preferring death over failure.

Silver has plenty of flaws and he develops a new quirk brought on by his condition through a series of micro-strokes which cause him to voice his true inner thoughts out loud without realizing it until it is too late, which provides many comedic moments. The book is a humorous and enjoyable portrait that is more in line with with the majority of Tropper’s earlier works (Everything Changes and How to Talk to a Widower) rather than the hilarious laugh fest that his 2009 release was.

I encourage you to read Tropper’s work; I can personally recommend all of his books. Do yourself a favor  and pick up One Last Thing Before I Go. But don’t stop there, move on to any of his five earlier novels, but by all means do save his best—This is Where I Leave You—for last.

Question: What are you reading?


2 comments on “Book Review: One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

  1. I read This is Where I Leave You, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. You’re right in characterizing his books as a kind of male equivalent to chick lit, but I’d say even women would find his books enjoyable. They’re certainly interesting in terms of what they reveal about the male brain :p

    This was by far my favorite line from This is Where I Leave You: “He is the Paul McCartney of our family: better-looking than the rest of us, always facing a different direction in pictures, and occasionally rumored to be dead.”

    He got me at that line :p

    I’ll check out this new one. Great review!

    • No question that This is Where I Leave You is funnier but his new one is still well crafted. I enjoy his style of writing and I wasn’t disappointed. I hope you like it.

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