One Last Thing Before I Go

by Jonathan Tropper

Book, 2012

Barcode

123460055

Call number

FIC TRO

Collection

Publication

New York : Dutton, c2012.

Description

"No wonder Silver is feeling slightly desperate: his ex-wife is about to marry a terrific guy, his Princeton-bound daughter announces that she's pregnant, and if he doesn't acquiesce to an operation, he will soon drop dead."--Library Journal.

User reviews

LibraryThing member johnluiz
Thank God for Jonathan Tropper. He's one of my favorite authors and you can reliably depend on him to put out an entertaining novel every couple of years. This one lives up to his lofty standards. It follows his usual storyline of someone in a crisis wisecracking their way through all of his
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troubles and managing to make a worse mess of things before they finally set their lives straight. Our protagonist here is Silver, a drummer for a now defunct one-hit-wonder band, who's getting by with work in a wedding band and living in a condo development where divorced men go after they've been banished by their wives.

Silver discovers he has a life-threatening tear in his aorta, and while an operation could save him, he puts the operation off while considering whether his life is worth living. He lost the great love of his life, who's now planning to marry a great guy, and his Princeton-bound daughter, whom he neglected for years, has gotten herself pregnant. It's hard to believe that anyone not in a serious depression - and Silver clearly isn't - wouldn't immediately jump at a chance to save their lives, but if you play along with that premise, Tropper does a great job of tracking how Silver discovers whether life is worth continuing, even after he has disappointed everyone he cared about.

Silver is a lout - and it can be a little hard to sympathize with him for what an absentee father he was during his daughter's formative years, particularly since his ex-wife wasn't the acrimonious type that made every interaction a bitter face-off. But as he often does, Tropper makes his irresponsible characters lovable by having them always disarm anyone who's angry with them. Anytime anyone here lets Silver know what an a-hole he is, his response is always, "I know and I agree."

The dialogue, per usual, is fast and fun, even though it does strain credulity a little bit that every character here has a black belt in smart-alecky repartee. As one example, when Silver introduces himself to Lily, a folk singer he has a crush on, the exchange goes: Silver: "I'm not good at this." Lily: "What?" S: "At talking to you." L: "A lot of people aren't good at talking to me. You should meet my parents." S: "I don't think I'm ready for that kind of commitment."

Another standard element is the fight scene between two guys who aren't really good at fighting and who stumble their way through an awkward mashing of bodily parts - and here the confrontation between Silver and his ex-wife's new fiancé is played to full comic effect.

There are also a lot of observations about the peculiar absurdities of human nature, and while these aren't the profound, unexpected insights you might get in a Robert Cohen novel because Tropper focuses on the more clichéd aspects of humanity - like middle-aged men's fascination with the beauty of college girls - it's amazing how much fresh insight he can provide on well-worn topics.

He also may over rely on a trick - Silver often has interior dialogue that reveals in embarrassing detail his feelings for a particular person and the secrets they've shared with him - and then after we've been given it as interior thoughts, he discovers he's said it out loud and embarrassed himself and everyone who heard it. It's supposed to be a condition of his aortic tear, I don't know if such a condition exists where someone would be unaware that they're speaking, but it happens about five times or more in the novel.

I recognize that these credulity-straining tricks are the stock-in-trade of comic novels. True to the comic genre, Tropper keeps things like even in the most intense moments. When Silver accompanies his daugther to the clinic because she is considering getting an abortion, they're both emotionally overwrought but they trade witty barbs in the waiting room -- not something most fathers and daughters would be capable of in that difficult of a situation.

In the final analysis, Tropper's books are highly readable and entertaining because his exceptional talent is evident on every page. His descriptions are always dead on and inventive, like "The shop is run by Pearl, a buxom Hungarian widow in her fifties who applies her makeup with a paintbrush and whose every move is punctuated by the rustle of nylons rubbing together and the Christmas jingle of a thousand golden bangles" or "She is a drab sliver of a woman, with paper-thin lips and the harried expression of someone who has long since resigned herself to being the only competent person on the planet."

When Silver's family decides to stage an intervention to convince him he should get the needed operation, his successful brother offers a moving portrait of how much he misses the camaraderie of their younger days and how he assumed they had recaptured that closeness in the years right after Silver's divorce when he would pay him regular visits - it's a moving sentimental passage that gets immediately turned on its head when Silver reveals he stopped coming because his brother's attempt to welcome him into the embrace of his intact family actually felt to him like a deliberate attempt to rub his nose in the fact that his brother had made a much happier life for himself. It's a brilliant 180 turn that only someone with Tropper's talents could pull off.

As other reviewers have noted, the exchanges between Silver and his teenaged daugther, Casey, are hearfelt. There are a lot of sentimental moments -- and perhaps one that ODs on sentiment (a friend of Silver's at the home for discarded husbands reunites with his estranged son while he's undergoing chemotherapy), the other family exchanges are moving without going over the top. I particularly liked the passages in which Silver's father, a rabbi, takes him on his rounds of overseeing a bris, a bar mitzvah, a death and a wedding to help reignite Silver's passion for life.

I always grab Tropper's novels as soon as they're available. I look forward to his next one, and it'll be interesting to see how his talents translate onto the small screen with the debut next year of the Cinemax show, Banshee, he's been working on with fellow author David Schickler.
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LibraryThing member chuewyc
Well i am not a fan of this book. I felt like to was pretty boring and not much happened. I do like the story it had to tell but thought it was long and dull overall
LibraryThing member LSUTiger
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the first one I've read of Jonathan Tropper's work, and I'm looking forwards to reading the rest of his novels. The main character, Silver, is a bit of a sad sack and lost soul, and now he knows that he's also about to lose his life as well. Sounds like it should be
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a depressing novel, right? But it's not. There is humor throughout the book, even when characters find themselves in painful situations. The author does a great job making you care about each of the characters. I found myself rooting for Silver throughout the book, yearning for him to repair relationships and engage in new ones. It's a very quick read, and a wonderful one at that!
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LibraryThing member Jenners26
Nobody writes comedic tragedies quite like Jonathan Tropper. He gives his characters these horribly depressing situations to live through (in this book, aging rock star Silver has messed up his life and his relationship with his family and then gets the news that he could die at any second), but
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the books are so funny that I think of them as humorous books rather than sad ones. As Silver struggles to come to terms with his ex-wife’s remarriage, his teenage daughter’s pregnancy and the realities of his life and limited future, Tropper treads on ground that will simultaneously break your heart but make you snort out loud with laughter. I don’t quite know Tropper pulls off this balancing act but he does and I just love it.
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LibraryThing member grandpahobo
This is a very enjoyable book. Its both funny and poignant, but mostly funny. It is very similar to "This is Where I leave You" in that the main character in both books is a man whose whole life is falling apart.

This is a great read if you are a man over the age of 40 and looking for something
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light and funny. If you are female, you will probably be bored, disgusted or both. And if you under the age of 40, you probably won't really get a lot of it. But read it anyway, then come back and read it again when you hit 49 or 50.
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LibraryThing member Randall.Hansen
A story full of frustration, compassion, love, and lost chances... as a divorced man finds he has a fatal heart condition and has to chose between letting nature take its course (and end a life he is tired of living) or have risky surgery that could safe his life... but the main story is really
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about how we choose to live our lives. Funny, thought-provoking, and enjoyable read.
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LibraryThing member bearette24
I thought this was Jonathan Tropper's best book yet. Silver, the main character, really came to life in all his flawed majesty. The dialogue was sharp and funny. And the story overall was honest and moving, without any false notes.
LibraryThing member EricFitz08
One Last Thing Before I Go takes its cues from protagonist Drew Silver, both are funny, poignant, sad, and a bit fucked up.
There is a certain pattern which felt repetitive as I got to the end. Consciously I was trying to let the story unfurl, but it was hard to not anticipate the turn. You expect
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each time he does something that he is going to either faint or blurt something out, and he does, pretty much every time.
However it takes a while to really become distracting and overall the characters are likable and fun and it has a lot of heart. Also, the ending is pretty strong if a bit safe.
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LibraryThing member heike6
Jonathan Tropper is an amazing writer. Even though I don't particularly care for the plots of his books, I read for the writing, because it's that good. For an example, in this part the main character is being dragged to a stranger's funeral with his rabbi father:

"Ruben [the rabbi] finishes
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speaking and nods to the funeral director, who moves forward and flips a switch, and the coffin slowly begins to descend into the grave. The only sound is the small motor of the coffin-lowering device, and that shouldn't be what Mrs. Zeiring hears as her son is taken away from her. Someone should sing, Silver thinks, and then someone does -- a low, somewhat hoarse man's voice singing 'Amazing Grace' quietly but with great sincerity. Ruben's eyes grow wide, and almost in the same instant that it occurs to Silver that 'Amazing Grace' is not sung at Jewish funerals, he recognizes the singing voice as his own."

Overall a great story, even if his parents call him by his last name. I agree with the publisher that it is laugh out loud one paragraph and moved to tears the next.
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LibraryThing member ccayne
Tropper does it again - very funny. Another man trying to figure out what went wrong and what to do. Luckily, Silver still has those who care about him. Tropper's men are not black loners but rather pretty normal men who haven't got a clue.
LibraryThing member jules72653
For me, Tropper's book This is Where I Leave You set a standard for his future novels. It was emotional yet hilarious in near perfect proportions. This one does not disappoint even though it doesn't quite meet up to my high expectations.
LibraryThing member gayla.bassham
Disappointing. Consistently entertaining, but thin and lacking in insight.
LibraryThing member ParadisePorch
Drew Silver’s life is in the toilet: he’s divorced from the woman he loves, estranged from his teenage daughter, and he’s living in a community of other pathetic lonely divorced men who are also waiting for their wives to take them back. When he’s diagnosed with an aorta that’s going to
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split and kill him, he opts to not have surgery since he feels his life isn’t worth living. Instead, he’ll use the remaining time to repair relationships with the people in his life.

It’s just a notch above formulaic and mundane.

Read this if: you need a reminder to pay attention to the people in your life while you still have time. 3 stars
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LibraryThing member jphamilton
The man is very funny. I came away from this novel with the strong message that the male human is very simple, and, for the most part, very confused by the fairer sex. It seems that most of us men simply don't “get” women. I just wonder what he based all these theories on.
LibraryThing member MartinBodek
I suppose the only reason the book isn't subtitled "Sex sex sexy sexy crazy sex bad sex depressing sex loser sex pity sex sex sex addicts anonymous sexnuts" is because the title was long enough as it was. The book plods along for its first quarter in a most depressing, dejected, aimless manner. I
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almost put it down. Then, at just past the right moment, the book turns itself around, and veers into a hilarious realm of Radical Honesty (a concept I find fascinating, but won't dare to be a practitioner) with full, idealized characters and complex, geniously-interplaying, witty-bantered full personalities. He sets up relationship nuances with perfection and expert looniness. It's just too bad the book knuckle-dragged its way through an overlong opening. I won't play spoiler, but the ending reminds me of another book I read - The Unnamed, by Joshua Ferris - where the story drags itself along for the first third or so, takes off as it reaches the climax (ahem), then, all the way at the end, at the last page, paragraph, sentence, the protagonist gets exactly what he needs and wants.
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LibraryThing member DarthDeverell
Jonathan Tropper’s One Last Thing Before I Go focuses on Drew Silver, the drummer from a one-hit wonder band now living in loneliness years after a divorce. After he suffers a mini-stroke, his ex-wife’s fiancé, a surgeon, tells him he has a small tear in his aorta which, if not repaired in
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surgery, will kill him. Silver opts to forgo the surgery. Faced with his impending death, he seeks to make his peace with his daughter and his ex-wife while taking stock of his life. Silver realizes he’s spent his life making “something of a religion out of ignoring the obvious until it’s far too late” (pg. 235). Tropper taps into some universal sense of nihilism or ennui in describing Silver’s outlook on the world as he faces his impending death. In trying to explain why he won’t undergo the surgery, Silver says, “I can’t live like this anymore… Like there’s some new life that’s going to kick in at some point and I just need to hang out in this holding pattern until it does” (pg. 227). His father, a Rabbi, debates with him whether or not Silver’s decision is a form of suicide, leading Silver to think of the one time he made a half-hearted attempt: “Suicide is difficult, but it’s nothing compared to the morning after” (pg. 82). Perhaps the most cutting line is when Silver attends a funeral and thinks, “Everybody dies alone. That’s a fact. Some more than others” (pg. 131). Tropper also finds great humor in the human condition, writing of Silver, “He gave up on irony years ago. It was that or death by prescription pills” (pg. 265). One Last Thing Before I Go is a brilliant novel that gets to the heart of many unspoken facets of life.
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LibraryThing member amandanan
Tropper definitely has a way with words. Loved how he went through the stages of life and love with examples of mostly strangers, but wove Silver's stages into all of it.
LibraryThing member nbmars
This is a book that ended exactly as it should have, but I still hated the ending (even while admiring the writer for not catering to readers like me).

This book might be described as a "coming-of-age" story about a 44-year-old divorced man, Drew Silver, who finally decides to grow up. Silver’s
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usual way of handling difficult situations is to let people down - almost willfully; or, if that doesn’t work, to suggest going for ice cream cones:

"‘What is it with you and ice-cream cones?’

He licks around the edge of his cone as he considers the question. ‘I guess no one ever eats an ice-cream cone at a funeral, or a fire. The Red Cross doesn’t drop ice-cream cones into third-world countries. If you’re eating an ice-cream cone, it’s just very hard to believe that things have gone completely to sh*t.”

But for Silver, they pretty much have.

This is also a story about a group of lonely divorced men and their hurts, fears, regrets, and the touching relationships they develop with one another; about an estranged father and daughter; and about the saving grace, and redemption, that comes from finally having the courage to have a little hope, and to take a chance on it.

The basic plot centers around Silver, a former one-hit-wonder rock band drummer, who now plays at bar mitzvahs and weddings, and also regularly donates sperm for extra cash. He finds out he has an aortic tear and will die without surgery. He doesn’t really see a reason why he should go on living, however. And although he has loving parents who visit him often, he thinks his life is meaningless and pathetic:

"These visits kill him, because he loves them too, and because he knows his sad little life hurts them, maybe even more profoundly than it sometimes hurts him, which means these visits probably kill them too. So every other weekend they spend an hour or so together that leaves them all depressed and depleted, but they never miss it, and if that’s not the best definition of family, then he doesn’t know what is.”

Silver lives at an old hotel converted to an apartment building - a broken-down place for broken-down divorced men. On weekend afternoons they all sit around the pool and detail their respective and successive losses. His two best friends there are the wickedly funny but fiercely loyal Jack and Oliver. Since Silver has gotten sick, he has started vocalizing his thoughts to them without even being aware he is doing so:

"Jack and Oliver are staring at him.

‘Did I just say all that out loud?’ Silver.

‘Your inner monologue seems to have broken free.’ Oliver

‘Sh*t.’ Silver.

‘You were very eloquent.’ Oliver.

‘And by eloquent, he means depressing as sh*t.’ Jack.”

Silver’s estranged 18-year-old daughter Casey comes to see him because she finds herself pregnant after her first sexual experience, and doesn’t know what to do. She tells Silver instead of her mom, Denise, because she doesn’t care as much about letting Silver down. As for Denise, she has mixed feelings about Silver. She thinks, “We don’t stop loving people just because we hate them, but we don’t stop hating them either.” The drama between Silver and Denise is not helping Casey, however:

"‘I AM PREGNANT!’ Casey shouts at them, her voice cracking. ‘I am scared and lost and fucked, and you’re both too busy f*ck*ng up your own lives to give a sh*t! I need my parents! Real parents! Not this goddamn freak show!”

Meanwhile, Denise is about to get married again to a man named Rich, who also happens to be a heart surgeon. He may hate Silver in some ways, but he is a doctor first, and wants to save him. Silver, however, is not much interested in being saved.

Discussion: Tropper is adept at capturing the bonds that tie families to each other, showing how they are at once powerful and fragile, allowing for different patterns among different members, and different ways of triggering the most cutting hurt, or the most profound experience of love. He is also skilled at conjuring up moods and inspiring empathy in the reader; his dialogue flows with an ease that allows you to stay inside the story, and to feel, along with the characters, what they are feeling.

Evaluation: Every one of these richly nuanced characters is dear - even Silver, who is almost always saying or doing the wrong thing. The story is gut-wrenching in some parts and very funny in others, with sardonic, witty repartee that manages, in spite of its humor, to remind you of the many ways the heart can break - both physically and emotionally.
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LibraryThing member indygo88
Drew Silver is a wash-up. Former drummer for a one-hit wonder band, his ex-wife is preparing to remarry and his daughter is becoming more of a stranger to him. He spends his days hanging with a couple of other washed-up middle-aged men, coming to realize that his life is going nowhere. When he
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experiences a heart episode and chooses not to have life-saving surgery, everyone around him is miffed by his decision. Silver himself can't seem to explain it, and thus begins a period of self-discovery.

I've really come to love Jonathan Tropper. As with most of his fiction, this story centers on a down-on-his-luck early middle-aged man who just can't seem to get it together. On the surface this doesn't seem like a story line that should consistently pull me in, but Tropper captures family dynamics like no other, and I love his sense of humor. While I wouldn't say this was my favorite novel of his, nevertheless it had the typical Tropper charm and I was chuckling more often than not. Once again, another gem.
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LibraryThing member melrailey
This was my first experience with Jonathon Tropper. I've heard great things about Tropper on many book podcasts. So I finally decided to take the plunge and read one of his books. It was well worth the read. Silver was an interesting main character. Although I didn't identify with him and didn't
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really sympathize with him and I wanted him to be a better man and wanted things to work out for him. I wanted him to work his stuff out and figure out how to make his life worth living. I think that takes some talent on an author's part to take a totally unsympathetic main character and make the reader want things to work out for him. I also pulled some really great quotes from this book.
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LibraryThing member whitebalcony
As depressing as this book was, on some level I enjoyed it even more than This is Where I Leave You. Angst ridden loser dad is one of the saddest and truest characters I've read in ages. Thanks JT!

ISBN

0525952367
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