This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper Earlier this summer a customer requested This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. I didn’t have this book in stock but when she told me the plot – a dysfunctional family comes together to sit Shiva – I thought I might like to read it myself. I did not need to be told what it means to sit Shiva, I’ve done it too often. If you, however, do not know, Shiva is a Jewish custom that takes place after a death. The immediate family comes together, usually in the home of the closest surviving relative, for a week. Prayers are led morning and night, and extended family and friends visit for prayers, and come and go throughout the day – often bringing, or having delivered, vast quantities of food.
I believe that most families are in some part dysfunctional – but the Foxman family is definitely so. Well, perhaps they are no worse than anyone else, but this story as told by Jonathan Tropper might make you question that.
Here is the first warning – very early in the book we have one of the most explicit, over the top, horrifying and funniest sex scenes that I have ever read. I was shocked, repelled and laughing all at the same time. Believe me I had my doubts about this book but I read on – and enjoyed reading a very funny book about an endearing man and his family. But be forewarned - this is not a politically correct book.
Morton Foxman has died - and his widow Hillary Foxman, and his adult children Judd, Paul, Wendy and Philip are sitting Shiva in the family home. These siblings have grown up in a rather unusual household. Dad was quite normal, he owned and ran a sporting goods business, but Mom was, and is, the celebrity author of the book Cradle and All – “patron saint of frustrated mothers”, a woman who her son Judd knows loves him, even as she is publically eviscerating or emasculating her offspring.
And Hillary has not changed over the years, she is as forthright now as she was while raising her children – they are, after all, still her children and she is still dispensing advice for all to hear. The family members arrive, the siblings and assorted children and the mourners receive their guests. As Judd observes the “middle aged women, long-standing friends of my mother, attractive women in the early stages of disrepair”, I thought what an apt description of my generation.
At the centre of the story is our narrator, Judd, and the tale of woe of his recent marital problems. Judd is mourning not only his father, but his marriage – he is desperately trying to find his way without his father and without his wife. Spending this much time in his childhood home, with his mother and his siblings is a challenge – and a gift. Judd feels old and tired as he watches the “rowdy, hopped-up college kids pass in an endless, noisy blurr…guys skulking in their T-shirts and cargo shorts, girls in low-slung jeans and flip-flops, pimples and breasts and tattoos and lipstick and legs and bra straps, and cigarettes; a colourful, sexy mélange.” You’ll love this book just for the prose.
This might not be the book for everyone – but if you’re willing to stretch your usual reading choices you will find yourself in for a treat.