THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper

Book Quote:

“I have to smile, even as I chafe, as always, at our family’s patented inability to express emotion during watershed events. 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.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (SEP 23, 2009)

This is a grand book – hilarious, poignant, thoughtful, emotional, and real. It is one of the best books I have read this year and a book I intend to give to many of my friends and family members. It is THAT good.

The book is told in the voice of Judd Foxman. It starts off with Judd finding out that his wife of ten years is cheating on him with his boss, a radio jock. Shortly after realizing he’s a cuckold, he gets a call from his sister telling him that their father died and that his father wanted them to sit Shiva. (This is a Jewish ritual that the immediate family participates in for seven days after the death of a loved one). Judd immediately leaves for his mother’s house to meet up with his two brothers, his sister, and his mother.

The Foxman clan is riotously over the top. When someone says something reasonable, “we all stare at her as if she just started jabbering in ancient tongues. We have always been a family of fighters and spectators. Intervening with reason and consideration demonstrated a dangerous cultural ignorance”.   Listening to the Foxmans reminded me a bit of watching “All in the Family,” only better.

There is mom, a famous writer who wrote a book on how to bring up children. She is also famous for her double-D cleavage and the amount she likes to show. Phillip is the youngest of the clan. One can never be sure if what he is saying is true. His favorite activity is sex, lots of it. He arrives late to the funeral in a Porsche, bringing with him an older woman, his ex-therapist, to whom he is engaged. There is Wendy, the sole female sibling. She is married to a financier who spends little time with her. He spends most of his time on the phone discussing business, even at the funeral and during sitting Shiva. She has three children and it all seems just too much for her. Paul is the oldest of the boys. He runs the family’s sporting goods business. He also carries around a lot of anger, mostly directed at Judd. He was once headed for the major baseball leagues and had a baseball scholarship to UMass. This was all ruined when he got attacked by a Rottweiller while he was coming to Judd’s defense. His pitching arm was maimed severely and his baseball career ruined. He and his wife, Alice, have been trying to get pregnant. Alice is on an emotional roller coaster from her fertility treatments.

And then there is Judd. He is an emotional wreck. He still loves his wife but can’t get over the fact that she’s been cheating on him for a year. He’s out of a job now, not wanting to work for the man who’s shtupping his wife. He’s been living in a basement, eating pizza and take-out Tex-Mex. Basically, his life is a royal mess. The thought of spending seven days with his family is a nightmare because they never get along, and that is putting it mildly. Sitting Shiva creates more problems for him. “Suddenly, I can’t stop seeing the footprints of time on everyone in the room. The liver spots, the multiple chins, the sagging necks, the jowls, the flaps of skin over eyes, the spotted scalps, the frown lines etched into permanence, the stooped shoulders, the sagging man breasts, the bowed legs. When does it all happen? In increments, so you can’t watch out for it, you can’t fix it. One day you just wake up and discover that you got old while you were sleeping.”  Judd doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry as he sees all the old folks come and go from his family home.

During the course of sitting Shiva, the Foxman clan fights, loves and learns a lot about one another – - sometimes more than they wanted to know. I loved reading this book from the first page till the last. It’s everything a book should be, and more.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 206 readers
PUBLISHER: Dutton Adult (August 6, 2009)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AMAZON PAGE: This Is Where I Leave You
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Jonathan Tropper
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read a review of How to Talk to a Widower

More humorous dysfunction:

The Family Man by Elinor Lipman

Mailman by J. Robert Lennon

Lying on the Couch by Irvin D. Yalom

Bibliography:


September 23, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Family Matters, Humorous

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