Jonathan Tropper writes some of the best, most painfully, beautifully realistic characters I've ever read. His book This Is Where I Leave You instantly became one of my favorites because the quirky cast of characters stayed with me long after I closed that back cover. In September, the book's film adaptation will hit theaters (here's the full cast, including Jason Bateman and Tina Fey!) and I'll be sitting there, popcorn in hand, on opening night.
This past week, I finally got around to reading another of his books, One Last Thing Before I Go. It has the same dark humor, the same heavy, sometimes depressing moments punctuated with the lightest hand, the most refreshing sense of sarcasm. Tropper's stories aren't breezy, happily ever afters — that's for sure — but he writes reality. He writes sharp, poignant truths. This book is about a divorced, has-been drummer who takes stock of his life and his failing relationships after a medical emergency. I finished it in a matter of days, and I found myself underlining phrase after phrase, the language just as insightful and intriguing as in This Is Where I Leave You. I'll let the words speak for themselves:
When he is with her, the sense of what he's lost is powerful enough to flatten his lungs.
She loves him for this readability, for all the time not spent wondering what he's thinking or feeling. And sometimes she hates him for it.
She realizes with a start that he is actually somewhat in love with her. Not in a way that matters or lasts, but just in this moment, and there's something warming about that.
We don't stop loving people just because we hate them, but we don't stop hating them either.
There's a version of his life that was meant to be spent with her, and every so often she looks a certain way, just for an instant, and he sees this version of her, the one that stayed in love with him.
She is possessed of an innate kindness that he sees almost like a color coming off of her.
He loved a girl once; for no particular reason, just a lot of little ones thrown together. Isn't that what love is, anyway? The sum of a million intangibles that all come together in just the right way at just the right time?