Posts Tagged Jonathan Tropper
TV show based on Tom Perrotta’s novel The Leftovers
Peter Berg will direct and executive produce an HBO show based on the Tom Perrotta’s best-selling 2011 novel The Leftovers. LOST co-creator Damon Lindelof will co-author the script with Perrotta as part of his three-year deal with Warner Bros. Television. If the show moves past development stage, Lindelof will serve as showrunner. The Leftovers centers on a group of people left behind after a mysterious world-wide disappearance. I interviewed Tom Perrotta about The Leftovers for The L Magazine in 2011.
Casting for This is Where I Leave You
Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver [GIRLS] will play siblings in This is Where I Leave You based on Jonathan Tropper’s 2010 novel about four siblings who spend a week sitting Shiva at their childhood home. Jane Fonda plays their widowed mother. Connie Britton [Nashville, Friday Night Lights] has been cast as his girlfriend.
Timothy Olyphant [Justified] plays Fey’s character’s high school sweetheart. Kathryn Hahn has been cast as Stoll’s wife. Rose Byrne will play Bateman’s love interest and Abigail Spencer his ex-wife. Ben Schwartz, best known as Jean Ralphio on Parks and Recreation, will play the family’s non-traditional rabbi.
Shawn Levy will direct This is Where I Leave You and co-produce with Paula Weinstein. Filming is expected to begin next month.
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.
purchase at Amazon: One Last Thing Before I Go
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan [Knopf]
–Egan writes with impressive attention to detail and possesses the ability to craft a unique, humorous and riveting portrait of two people invested in the challenging and ever-changing music industry.
The Dissemblers by Liza Campbell [Permanent Press]
–Through lyrical prose and stimulating descriptions, Campbell deftly transports the reader to Georgia O’Keefe’s New Mexico. She propels us inside an artist’s mind and twists a complex morality tale.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender [Doubleday]
–Bender writes exquisitely. The fairy-tale magic realism propelling this novel is charming and irresistible.
Solar by Ian McEwan [Nan A. Talese]
–crazy story told with McEwan’s brilliant style [simultaneously amusing and uncomfortable] about a physicist working with alternative energy sources including wind power and solar
If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black [Random House]
–exquisitely crafted, eclectic collection of short stories
City of Veils by Zoe Ferraris [Little, Brown and Company]
–Ferraris illuminates the varying levels of religious devotion and the status of women in Saudi Arabia from several viewpoints. It contains plenty of twists and thought-provoking cultural situations.
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart [Random House]
–Shteyngart brilliantly describes a dystopian future with fantastically elaborate detail through emails, IM exchanges and diary entries.
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper [Plume]
–Tropper has quickly become one of my favorite writers for his sensitive and often hilarious insight on relationships.
Small Kingdoms by Anastasia Hobbet [Permanent Press]
–beautifully crafted a complex, layered story about the abuse of a household servant in Kuwait. Moving from character to character and each individual story, Hobbet provides a rich background about life in Kuwait and the complex structure of the Middle East where class divisions remain strong, Americans and British are simultaneously despised and coveted, arcane laws and customs remain in place, yet Kuwait, compared to other Arab nations appears modern.
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow [Algonquin Books]
–provocative and creative coming-of-age in the 1980s story. Blue-eyed, mocha-skinned Rachel is the daughter of a black GI-father and a Danish mother. The sole survivor of a Chicago rooftop tragedy, the 12-year-old ends up at her boozing and opinionated grandmother’s house in Portland, Ore.
Emily Hudson by Melissa Jones [Pamela Dorman Books]
–Jones has created a rousing feminist character in Emily. She’s outspoken and likely to shun conventionality. Emily’s a bit ahead of her time. Women are supposed to be married off by a certain age and then be relegated to the kitchen and drawing room, only to come out for parties and entertaining. And to be an artist at this time? It’s rather unusual and Emily certainly meets those who doubt her talents and capability to make it out there on her own, including her dear cousin William.
How to Survive a Natural Disaster by Margaret Hawkins [Permanent Press]
–astute family drama filled with betrayal, envy, lies, discord, tragedy and forgiveness. It packs a real punch and will stay with you for days after you finish its last page.
The Wolves of Andoverr by Kathleen Kent [Reagan Arthur]
–I really liked this novel for a number of reasons. It provides a detailed, rich description of daily life in 17th century Massachusetts. Smallpox travels through the town and I’m fascinated by infectious disease and how it’s contained. Kent takes the reader to England for its civil war. And the wolves? There are two kinds of wolves in this novel and they are sneaky and vicious.
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin [Grand Central]
–Martin delves into the complicated New York art world and particularly into the life of art dealer Lucy Yeager. Like an Edith Wharton novel, this glitzy, posh scene has its nuanced participants and sinister underbelly.
Something Redby Jennifer Gilmore [Scribner]
–Gilmore instills equal parts cheerfulness and solemnity throughout this meditative second novel. It’s a superb reflection on the connection between external events and our psyches.
That’s love in real life: messy and corrupt and completely unreliable. I like Penny, and I still love Jen, and I hate Jen and I couldn’t leave Penny’s sad little apartment fast enough. I want someone who will love me and touch me and understand me and let me take care of them, but beyond that, I don’t know.
The combination of honesty, darkness, and vitriol in THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jonathan Tropper is fantastic!
Amy Steele [AS]: I was talking with some people on Twitter about the concept of chick lit/ women’s fiction. There’s no men’s fiction category but there’s women’s fiction, yet mostly women read fiction. What are your thoughts on this?
Jonathan Tropper [JT]: I try not to think about it. I was really disappointed when I made it as a novelist and the publishers basically told me that men buy non-fiction and women buy fiction. I was a reader and I only read novels and I supposed many men do. Proportionally they sell more books to women than men. Novels. Men seem to buy biographies and books on war and other non-fiction. At least that’s the sense of things in the publishing industry. I certainly hear from many men who read my books. Even if women are buying the majority of novels it doesn’t mean that women want to only read books by women and about women.
AS: You focus a lot on relationships and even if they are about guys I can totally relate. They are really insightful and funny and yet you have the darker side to them. How did you develop your style?
JT: I didn’t really think about it. I was partly inspired by the books I read. I wanted to tell stories about how contemporary men deal with the issues we all deal with in an honest and unflinching way. I try to write from a male perspective and present a fully realized portrait of how today’s suburban men think. What their values are. What there challenges are. I didn’t think of the style. I write the way I write.
AS: Did you make a conscience effort to become a writer?
JT: I really wasn’t good at anything else. I really thought I wanted to be a writer. I went to grad school for writing [masters in creative writing from NYU]. I was always writing. I wanted to write novels. I tried one or two that didn’t work. I picked it up again and I wrote one that I managed to sell. I never believed I could actually do it successfully.
AS: What do you learn in a creative writing program?
JT: You can’t learn to write certainly. It’s very motivating for a writer to be surrounded by other people who are trying to do what you’re trying to do. Pretty much no one in my life was attempting to be a writer and it feels almost validating to just sit in a room full of people who are willing to talk about character and plot. It legitimizes it as a real pursuit for you. Through that process of work-shopping stories, I think you develop your own ability to critique your work a little better than if you just wrote in a vacuum.
AS: How do you separate yourself enough so that you’re writing for yourself but also writing to attract a readership?
JT: I have to know enough if I’m spending the next year of my life working on this story. I’m an avid reader and I know what speaks to me and I know what would appeal to me. I try to write the type of characters that I’d be interested in reading about.
AS: Are you as observant in reality as you are in your writing?
JT: Writers in general, by their very nature, tend to be more observers than participants. I pay attention to people: the way they talk, the way they move, the way you can see their motives. I’ve always been focused on watching people and their behavior.
AS: You’re central characters are mostly GenXers like you and me. I know that most authors draw on their own experiences. How much of your own experiences go into your writing?
JT: Not factual or autobiographical experiences. There are things I write about that intrigue me. None of the things that have happened to the characters have ever happened to me but it’s all fueled by what’s around me– by all my observations, feelings. No one that I write about would be out of place living in my neighborhood.
AS: Why did you choose to write about sitting Shiva?
JT: I was writing a book about this man who lost all the things that made him a man. He lost he wife, he lost his job. I wrote all these pages and he wasn’t that interesting to me. I wrote a chapter where he goes home to his parent’s house and I introduced all his siblings and his mother. And that was the only time that I felt the book was becoming alive to me. So I decided I wanted to make the book about the Foxman family and I just had to come up with an excuse to keep them together for more than a few hours. That’s when I came up with the idea of a Shiva.
AS: What appeals to you about that setting in drawing out character stories?
JT: It was about trapping all these adult children who have all these issues with each other and they’re spending time in the same house and in their childhood house. They regress back to their childhood issues.
AS: How do you write: characters first or plot/ story first?
JT: It’s always the character first and then the journey I want the character to take. Then I sort of build the plot around it. It has to be something larger than a premise you’re writing about. This is Where I Leave You is not a book about Shiva. It’s a book about family. It’s a book about marriage. If it is a big idea, it’s just a cool idea and you’re going to run out of steam. I know I need to be grounded to the character, at least, before I get to the plot and the premise.
AS: How do you balance humor and pathos?
JT: I get asked that a lot. I don’t really think about it. The question actually surprises me because it’s not a conscious act. I’m just writing the way I write. If I’m writing a dramatic moment chances are the humor’s not going to pop up at that moment. I write books that are honest in their focus.
AS: Why did you want to write about a shock jock and the radio setting?
JT: It wasn’t just that he lost his life but that he lost his life in such a public setting.
AS: Who are some of the authors who have influenced you?
JT: I love Richard Russo. I came up reading Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis. Before that I read Stephen King and Kurt Vonnegut. I’m kind of all over the place.
AS: What inspires you to write?
JT: The rock star thing didn’t work out.
Title: This Is Where I Leave You
Author: Jonathan Tropper
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (July 6, 2010)
Category: contemporary fiction
Review source: publisher
Jonathan Tropper is currently on tour in support of the paperback release of This Is Where I Leave You.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 7:00 pm
Huntington Book Revue
313 New York Avenue
Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 8:00 pm
Elliot Bay Books
1521 Tenth Avenue
Thursday, July 29, 2010, 7:00 pm
8818 West Sunset Blvd
LOS ANGELES, CA
Tuesday, August 3, 2010, 7:00 pm
296 Walnut Street
Wednesday, August 4, 2010, 7:00 pm
(panel with Peter Hedges)
200 Hudson Street
NEW YORK, NY