Originally published in 2010, Jonathan Tropper's novel This Is Where I Leave You is soon to be released as a major motion picture starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Connie Britton.
It tells the story of Judd Foxman, a man in his early 30s going through several setbacks including the discovery of his wife sleeping with his boss. Whilst all this is occurring, Judd must go home for Shiva following the death of his father.
This means sharing a room with his dysfunctional family; his mother, Hilary, a noted celebrity therapist; his two brothers, Paul and Philip and his sister, Wendy and all their significant others and offspring, The premise of having a family who do not communicate stuck in a room together where they have to grief as one is a common thread in American literature and comedy, making this novel ripe for the impending big screen treatment.
However, what is so refreshing about the novel is how expertly Tropper has convincingly rendered the dysfunction and disintegration of the modern American family in the modern age. His ear for dialogue is impressive and provides a real zip to proceedings which allowed this reader to not stop turning the page; if cast correctly, the delivery in the movie could be golden. Especially during the Shiva scenes themselves where Tropper's cynical observant eye is at its most uproarious. At times, this reader was laughing out loud not just from dialogue but from the situation they are presented in.
Yet you can tell Tropper wants his characters to triumph, the depiction of brain injury neighbour Horry is particularly well done with great restraint and dignity. Yet Horry is given some of the better lines in the book.
When reading the book, two famous old adages came to mind. You cannot pick your family and with friends like these who needs enemies. There are a few well handled set pieces such as the scenes between Judd and old flame Penny, and in Judd the author has created one of those fine comic creations that is both cynic and soft around the edges, and the book never becomes over sentimental when it so easily could, he author who has also written How To Talk To A Widower, is far too optimistic for that.
This Is Where I Leave You is out now on paperback from Orion Publishing