The new novel, This is Where I Leave You, opens with the death of Mort Foxman, a not at all observant New England Jew whose apparent last wish was that his family sit shiva, the mourning process common to observant Jews to mourn his death.
Judd is one of the three brothers in tow here, who has just found out that his wife has been sleeping with his boss for a year. He's narrates most of the horror/hilarity to follow. Paul has issues left over from childhood that tie directly to Judd, and Philip "is the Paul McCarthey of our family: better looking than the rest of us, always facing a different direction in pictures, and occasionally rumoured to be dead." Wendy is the lone sister, a great character with overtones of Dorothy Parker.
There are kids, spouses therapists and mourners everywhere over the seven days and the novel moves quickly through the daily calendar.
The review below likens Tropper to Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby, and that flies well enough for me. I never got particularly excited over Nick Hornby, but I'll follow a Tom Perrotta novel anywhere. As I tore through the book, I kept thinking that this is what Jonathan Franzen's Corrections would have been like if it were much funnier and built for speed.
The novels structure allows for plenty of set pieces and one or two fall flat, but that's a minor flaw in an otherwise hilarious sad, melancholic and knowing work that is already optioned for film and is going to vault Jonathan Tropper into heady company if there is any justice.
This is Where I Leave You is a great read, easily one of my favourites in a strong year;
full of laughs and hard won insight around the limits of matrimonial and familial love.
The Boston Herald has a piece on the author here.