switterbug (Betsey)'s Reviews > One Last Thing Before I Go

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
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Aug 02, 12

Read in July, 2012

Silver is forty-four, a former drummer with the one-hit-wonder band, The Bent Daisies. After the front man/vocalist, Pat Mcreedy, left them and went solo, they tanked, dried up, and disbanded. Now Silver is a notch above broke, and his ex-wife, Denise is about to get married to the doctor who wants to perform life-saving surgery on him. But Silver is about the most passively suicidal guy you may meet in fiction.

Silver lives on his royalty checks from the song, “Rest in Pieces,” or plays Bar Mitzvahs and weddings, when he can get a gig. Mcreedy’s career is epic and glitzy, and he sleeps with sexy celebrities. Silver hangs out with a group of losers in the tatty Versailles apartments, where they scope out young daisies in bikinis and nod off at the pool. In between, they make weekly deposits at the sperm bank to supplement their income.

Tropper has a knack for combining flippant with rueful to achieve sharp and piercing. His leading men are Jewish, middle-aged, overweight, and emotionally adolescent. This book and the last one—This is Where I Leave You-- have titles that underscore absence, departing, and abandonment. There’s as much death cloud as sex haze in the atmosphere. But there’s at least one compelling reason to keep Silver onward through the fog. Or is there?

The only person who seems to need Silver right now is his eighteen-year-old daughter, Casey. But only because she’s afraid of disappointing her mother with the news that she’s pregnant. So she tells her dad, whom she sometimes calls Dad, but often calls Silver. She’s a combination of spiky and vulnerable, and her presence makes you root for Silver to wake up from his numbed slumber and be the strong and able support that she needs. The scenes with Casey are often the most tender and fragile.

“Mom and Rich got me a G35 for my graduation.”
“That was nice of them.”
“Mom’s still compensating for you. I milk it a little.”
“I would. Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.”
“Why’d you come to me?”
“Really?”
“Yeah.”
“I care less about letting you down.”

This isn’t the side-splitting, laugh-out-loud humor of the last book, but is just as witty and cinematic. The movie rights have already been spoken for, which may bother some readers—that it has a filmic presence to it. (I think of Adam Sandler, and would be surprised if anyone else plays him in the movie.) However, the snappy dialogue and supple visuals are fresh and acute with its bent sense of humor. Silver keeps accidentally thinking out loud, which may be the most gimmicky aspect, although it is nuanced gimmick, if you will. There’s a hint of customized formula, but with an edge to it, and some loose ends that feel right.

My husband and I have an eighteen-year-old daughter, and—don’t shudder--we found aspects of this book therapeutic and and highly relatable. It’s madcap at times, improbable, and sometimes too clever. And yet…and yet…it’s about ordinary people trying to redeem themselves, to make sense of their place in the world, confront their shame and cowardice, and to love their children without too much toxic spillover. Sometimes we need a mop and a bucket to clean up our messes--and a spark from a quick, funny, savage, messy, poignant yarn about a guy who thinks out loud.
4.5 stars
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Reading Progress

07/13/2012 "4.5 stars. Review pending. A very quick read."

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Navin (new) - added it

Navin I really liked the title.


message 2: by Becky (new) - added it

Becky GREAT review, thanks for it!


switterbug (Betsey) It was so much fun. I love Tropper. He gets it.


message 4: by Maggi (new)

Maggi Love this review.


switterbug (Betsey) Thanks, Maggi!


Rick MacDonnell This was one of the best reviews I've read on Goodreads. The kind that slightly annoys me, because it reveals deficiencies in my own. ;)


switterbug (Betsey) LOLOLOL!!!!!! That's so sweet, but I am sure you are not deficient!


message 8: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Oh no, please don't give any casting person ideas of Adam Sandler! gack


MARILYN I see Bradley Cooper as Silver and Bruce Willis as Oliver.


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