Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Book of Joe
This Is Where I Leave You

by Jonathan Tropper

Both of these books made me laugh, and The Book of Joe also made me cry. I definitely like this writer and have recommended him to various people for various reasons. He has, I think, a good grasp of adult male psychology, with a mix of humor, sadness and realistically complex emotions and situations, so that angle can be handy for recommendations.

The Book of Joe is a you-can't-go-home-again type of story, except of course you can — and, my, how you've changed! And look how coming home again changes you even more! (I'm mocking the you-can't-go-home-again concept, not the book.) The story is about family relationships, and about the friendships of our youth, what's left behind, what remains regardless of our leaving, what could/should be kept or gotten back. Several tragedies are happening concurrently, yet lighter moments and redemptive possibilities keep the story from becoming too heavy. (But, as stated, I did cry, maybe even more than once.) As someone who's lived far away from most of my family for 20 years, a lot of this stuff resonated with me.

This Is Where I Leave You is a funeral and a divorce (and more: each character has his/her issues), but with humor and Jewish self-deprecation. In the movie, Tina Fey's character punches a guy in the face, and the main character is played by Jason Bateman (who is one of my imaginary celebrity husbands). Again, lots of real emotions and struggles, but leavened with humor.

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