Ruediger Landmann's Reviews > This is Where I Leave You

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
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Feb 12, 2014

it was ok
bookshelves: reading-between-the-wines, read-2014

First up: the low star rating here is my response to Goodreads’ rating system asking me how much I liked the book, rather than how good I think it is.

This is a book structured exactly like a mainstream American comedy film. I could see it in my head as I was reading it. I was aware before I started reading that a film is indeed in production, so I can’t be sure of how much this impression was created by that knowledge. Nevertheless, I was left with the weird feeling of reading a novelisation rather than a novel. The setup is: bring members of a large dysfunctional family together and watch them attack each other. Comedy ensues. In this case, the excuse to bring adult children together is sitting shiva for their father, joining with their mother and their various partners.

The premise reminded me straight away of Juzo Itami’s film The Funeral , but This is Where I Leave You is straight situation comedy, without any of Itami’s thoughtful interrogation of identity and culture. And that’s fine, of course, it’s just not what I usually enjoy.

The characters are entirely stereotypical, their motivations transparent, and the plot linear and almost entirely predictable. That said, I think that Tropper probably achieved exactly what he set out to do. The book is extremely well executed: the set pieces follow smoothly one after the other, never missing a beat. The characters are well chosen, and the tone is pitch-perfect for “zany” rather than outright farce, which sets this family disaster story apart from, say, the National Lampoon’s Vacation films.

Recommended as something quick, light, and disposable.

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Reading Progress

February 12, 2014 – Shelved
February 12, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
March 1, 2014 – Started Reading
March 1, 2014 – Shelved as: reading-between-the-wines
March 10, 2014 – Shelved as: read-2014
March 10, 2014 – Finished Reading

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