You don't have to look very hard at Drew Silver to see that mistakes have been made. His fleeting fame as the drummer for a one-hit wonder rock band is nearly a decade behind him. Read more...
You don't have to look very hard at Drew Silver to see that mistakes have been made. His fleeting fame as the drummer for a one-hit wonder rock band is nearly a decade behind him. He lives in the Versailles, an apartment building filled almost exclusively with divorced men like him, and makes a living playing in wedding bands. His ex-wife, Denise, is about to marry a guy Silver can't quite bring himself to hate. And his Princeton-bound teenage daughter Casey has just confided in him that she's pregnant--because Silver is the one she cares least about letting down.
So when he learns that his heart requires emergency, lifesaving surgery, Silver makes the radical decision to refuse the operation, choosing instead to use what little time he has left to repair his relationship with Casey, become a better man, and live in the moment, even if that moment isn't destined to last very long. As his exasperated family looks on, Silver grapples with the ultimate question of whether or not his own life is worth saving.
With the wedding looming and both Silver and Casey in crisis, this broken family struggles to come together, only to risk damaging each other even more. "One Last Thing Before I Go" is Jonathan Tropper at his funny, insightful, heartbreaking best.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-07-23
- Reviewer: Staff
In Tropper’s latest comic novel (after This Is Where I Leave You), 44-year-old Drew Silver, the washed-up drummer for one-hit wonders the Bent Daisies, refuses lifesaving surgery to fix a torn aorta—he realizes, after all, “that the lives of everyone close to him seem to improve dramatically once they leave him behind.” Eight years ago, Silver’s band hit it big, he behaved badly, and his wife, Denise, filed for divorce. He has never forgiven himself for losing his family, and since the split, he has languished by the Jersey Turnpike in an efficiency hotel and drummed his life away at weddings and bat mitzvahs. To make his imminent demise even worse, it’s just weeks before Denise remarries (Silver’s doctor), and Silver’s Princeton-bound, 18-year-old daughter, Casey, reveals that she’s pregnant. Silver has decided to let nature run its course, but a ministroke leaves him unwittingly voicing his desire to “Be a better man,” sparking a joint effort to reunite their family. Though Silver’s charm doesn’t translate on the page, Tropper fans can rest easy—plans are in the works to bring Silver to the silver screen. (Sept.)
Finding humor in life's mess
Jonathan Tropper’s 2009 bestseller, This Is Where I Leave You, garnered wide critical acclaim. With his penchant for finding levity in the most dismal of places, Tropper was frequently compared to Tom Perrotta and Nick Hornby. The parallels are apt, but as Tropper proves in his latest, One Last Thing Before I Go, his darkly comic and unpredictably insightful style is entirely his own.
Silver is a man without much to live for. He lives in the Versailles, an apartment complex that functions as something of a halfway house for, as Tropper puts it, “sad, damaged men” who are making their way, some slower than others, out of painful divorces. The former drummer of a band defined by their one-hit wonder, Silver has been on the decline since the group unraveled. He pines after the life he led with his ex-wife, Denise, who is weeks away from marrying a successful and mild-mannered doctor, and his Princeton-bound daughter, Casey. Amid the chaos of the impending nuptials and one adolescent pregnancy, Silver and his broken family are once again rocked when he receives a life-threatening diagnosis, one that can be treated by a routine operation. A routine operation Silver refuses to have.
As he effectively rules in favor of his own death sentence, Silver reluctantly begins a startling education in himself, and the roles he has played—with varying degrees of success—as a father, husband, brother and son.
Tropper’s prose is a perfect blend of irreverence and beauty. Like Hornby, he has a real command of the male voice, but the women certainly don’t get second billing here. This is a book populated by robust and knowable characters whose relationships perfectly capture the disarray of family life. They simultaneously heal and damage one another, and all the while, Tropper leads you through their commotion with humor and aplomb.