Saturday, October 31, 2009
On My Bookshelf: Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You
On occasion, I pick up a book, read it, and feel compelled to write about it. This reaction describes my experience with the new novel, This Is Where I Leave You. What a punch this novel packs, replete with betrayal, death, and existential crisis. Specifically, the book is about a man whose wife falls in love with another man, and tracks his journey on the downward spiral that follows.
I was first drawn to the book by its title. I often find melancholia in fiction and film attractive, in part, because it usually bears many layers of emotion, complex and intriguing all at once. The title, in fact, reminds me of another favorite book and title, Joyce Carol Oates’ Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart. I’m not sure if an author ever crafted a better title than that. Oates’ work, in fact, has mesmerized me to the point that few other authors have. I remember as a teenager when I read her book Wonderland, wrote her a letter with a few questions about the characters’ intentions, and felt both surprised and heartbroken when she never responded.
I’m not sure that I’ll write to the author of This Is Where I Leave You, but if I were to do so, I’m sure I could come up with a few titillating questions. Yet one of the questions I have is more for readers than the author himself. I mainly wonder if this is a book that men would primarily enjoy, as he probes so artfully into the male psyche, or if women would appreciate the book equally, as well. I don’t mean to suggest that the characters’ gender in a novel determines the gender of the readership who could appreciate it, but certainly that relationship must exist with respect to some books.
My guess is that men would like this book more than women, perhaps because one of the things that the author achieves so swiftly is his explication of male sexuality. Regardless, this book is so well-written and, at times, funny that I recommend you pick a copy up and give it a try. The book has received some terrific reviews from many prominent publications this year. I enjoyed it immensely and hope that you do, too.