Reid's Reviews > The Book of Joe

The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper
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's review
Aug 26, 2012

it was ok
Read in August, 2012

Meh. It's not that this is a bad book, really (uh oh, here comes the faint praise), there just isn't much to it. I don't much care about Joe and his struggles, truth be told. There are story elements that should cause me to care, should somehow induce caring in me, so I can only think this is a failure of authorship.

The plot line is easy to describe: 14 years ago Joe wrote a novel about his hometown, Bush Falls, which he called, none too cleverly, Bush Falls. The characters were very thinly veiled references to real people and none too flattering. It became an international bestseller and was made into a movie. When his father is dying, Joe must return to Bush Falls and face the music of all those who were affected by his book.

It's a pretty good setup, but Tropper seems to have fallen into the commonly encountered fallacy of the youthful author, the belief that a laconic style filled with ennui will somehow seem like wisdom based on experience and that being a smartass is something akin to being intelligent. What he needed to do was tell a heartfelt story and instead he has given us set pieces and cliches. Much eye-rolling ensues.

By all means, if you are in the mood for light diversion, pick up this book; it's not badly written. You need not worry about being deeply moved in any way. Like meringue or cotton candy, there will be a fleeting sweet taste on your palate and then it will be gone, without so much as a sense memory to recall where it had been.

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