THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper
â€śI have to smile, even as I chafe, as always, at our familyâ€™s patented inability to express emotion during watershed events. There is no occasion calling for sincerity that the Foxman family wonâ€™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.â€ť
Review by Bonnie Brody (SEP 23, 2009)
This is a grand book â€“ 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 heâ€™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 motherâ€™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, â€śwe 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 ignoranceâ€ť. Â 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 familyâ€™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 Juddâ€™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 canâ€™t get over the fact that sheâ€™s been cheating on him for a year. Heâ€™s out of a job now, not wanting to work for the man whoâ€™s shtupping his wife. Heâ€™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. â€śSuddenly, I canâ€™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 canâ€™t watch out for it, you canâ€™t fix it. One day you just wake up and discover that you got old while you were sleeping.â€ť Â Judd doesnâ€™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. Itâ€™s everything a book should be, and more.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 206 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Dutton Adult (August 6, 2009)|
|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
- Plan B (2000)
- The Book of Joe (2004) (a.k.a. Bush Falls in UK)
- Everything Changes (2005)
- How To Talk to a Widower (July 2007)
- This is Where I Leave You (August 2009)