One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper. Publisher: Dutton (August 21, 2012). Contemporary fiction. Hardcover. 336 pages. ISBN: 978-0-525-95236-7.
“He recognizes this as only another lonely person can—that small, almost invisible edge in her expression that comes from too many solitary meals and movies, too much time spent in worthless introspection, too much time spent regretting a past that can’t be undone. This is someone who is ready to be loved, he thinks.”
Jonathan Tropper is definitely one of my favorite contemporary male authors. When I heard he had a new novel coming out, I quickly requested a copy and immediately read it. Tropper writes about flawed, failed GenXer men with a sensitive understanding, a witty edge and an insightful flair. Silver is a divorced musician. A one-hit-wonder. He tasted the fame. Now he plays weddings. His ex-wife will soon re-marry a doctor. He lives in an awful apartment building crawling with other divorced men. His teenage daughter Casey shows up to announce she’s pregnant. Casey’s the class valedictorian and en route to Princeton. So to say this is irresponsible behavior for his 18-year-old daughter remains beyond hyperbole. When Silver finds out he’s dying of a heart condition, he sees it as an easy out. Or is it?
I found both the pregnancy and the medical condition to be strange plot lines that I both couldn’t get past and couldn’t stop reading about. Tropper writes that well. His character and dialogue can move past any ridiculous plot. If the plot-line had been better I’d have liked the book better. Who chooses to opt out of a heart condition at 43 because he’s not sure he wants to keep on living? I can completely relate to what Silver means but having that hang over your head at all times– wouldn’t one be completely anxiety-ridden? Tropper incorporates it as an additional character, or the fifth dimension or something to that effect. It’s somewhat ridiculous and the other characters realize it but analyze it and philosophize about it just the same. I’ve decided I won’t read novels that revolve around a pregnancy from a one-night-stand as it’s so unrealistic in 2012. As the novel’s about Silver, Casey’s pregnancy isn’t a major plot-line but Tropper handles it deftly. Fortunately Tropper’s smarter than other authors and excels at the craft. Both parents torment their daughter and mention how ridiculous she was not to use protection. Kudos to Tropper for mentioning abortion and detailing scenes with the parents on this. He’s realistic about teenagers.
Regret? Through Silver, Tropper shows that we can’t really regret what’s already been done. What’s past is past. The reader begins to comprehend the desires, insecurities and nuances as the Band-Aid gets ripped off at an excruciatingly slow pace. One Last Thing Before I Go had a few annoying bumps but mostly warm and fuzzy moments and humorous anecdotes about a man-child figuring out whether to move forward or let go. It’s about being happy with the here and now. Not settling. Not giving up. But being in the moment. Being present. And that’s never easy at any age for anyone.
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