I expected to spend today in a delightful state as I prepared to go listen to Jonathan Tropper speak in Harrisburg after work. The acclaimed novelist has an appearance there tonight.
I can’t make it (and have a good excuse – I am in a play tonight), but the reminder on my calendar of his appearance kickstarted me into finally writing my review of “One Last Thing Before I Go,” his most recent book. I actually finished reading it more than a month ago, but have been horribly procrastinate-y on matters such as this.
Going into the book, I knew I would love it. That’s just the deal with Tropper books and me. Ever since I found “The Book of Joe” on a local bookstore shelf, I have devoured everything he wrote. That one left me a little wanting, but everything else has delivered and thensome. So if you’re looking for advice on whether you should read this book, let me simply say “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.” And read all his other stuff too. I don’t usually get this way with authors, but Tropper has never let me down.
The story of Drew Silver and the existential crisis which comes with tragic medical news hits every level of emotion that Tropper explores. There is sadness for his dilemma, shock at how he handles it, humor at the people around him and glee at how he embraces the new version of life he chooses to concoct.
The characters, as always, ring true to life, which allows the absurd situations typical of a Tropper story to develop naturally. I don’t know if this was intentional, but I saw a lot of Louis CK in Drew. That might have a lot to do with the caustic relationship he has with most everyone, which is tempered by the tenderness he feels when he discovers his daughter’s pregnancy. Sure, Drew doesn’t always deal with that development well, but I kind of expect that Louis won’t if one of his kids gets knocked up right before she leaves for college.
The medical mystery which leads to Drew’s brutal honesty could have turned into an eye-rolling narrative crutch for some writers, but I thought Tropper wielded it just the way he needed to in order to advance the story. Even though I knew the main character had these bouts which led him to unknowingly speak his thoughts out loud, I continued to wonder at times whether it was actually happening. That’s quality writing.