You may recall that Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You was my fiction book of the year for 2009... so why has it taken me nearly two years to get back to another Tropper book!?! Well, if it makes any sense (and I think it will for my fellow avid readers), I think I was a bit afraid of diluting my strong reaction/memory to that first book (which was actually his last/latest book... got that?). I just could not imagine that Tropper could top This I Where... thus would I be disappointed? Or if he could top it, then I would have to re-think a book that I had been so wildly enthusiastic about?!
The topic of Tropper came up amongst some friends online and I just happened to be looking for a next/new read at the time, so finally decided it was time get back to Tropper. Most folks suggested The Book of Joe was his best (cemented by long-time W&C follower Scot, who became a Tropper addict based on my This Is Where review... love that!), so again, a bit afraid of that one, so decided on the slightly less-read, but still well-received, How To Talk To A Widower.
Any fears (not they were FEARS!) were quickly relieved as all the things I loved about my first experience with Tropper were well in force in this book... sizzling, sharp, witty, raw, funny, painful, astute prose. While enjoying it thoroughly, I still found myself a bit unsettled about my feelings as there was a whole lot of familiar territory. If I wrote this description: "Down-on-their-luck male protagonist dealing with the loss of a spouse and a parent, aided (or not) by clan of (equally) dysfunctional family and friends," it could be a fairly accurate description of both Widower and This Is Where.
So I was kinda left thinking that this left This Is Where as a bit less new and fresh and bold and pretty derivative of Widower. But, so what!? At the end of the proverbial day, was still left with two great books and an author who expertly captures the human condition in such an amazing and honest (at many times painfully honest) way, so much so that you are often left laughing or crying during the same reading session.
I'll put Widower ever so slightly under This Is Where in the Tropper rankings, but now with a second book under my belt, there is no doubt that he is on my "favorite authors" list.