The death of Judd Foxmans father marks the first time that the entire Foxman familyincluding Judds mother, brothers, and sisterhave been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judds wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judds radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.
Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarchs dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.
As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, its a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judds father died: Shes pregnant.
This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper's most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bindwhether we like it or not.
Dads dead," Wendy says off handedly, like its happened before, like it happens every day. It can be grating, this act of hers, to be utterly unfazed at all times, even in the face of tragedy. "He died two hours ago."
"Hows Mom doing?"
"Shes Mom, you know? She wanted to know how much to tip the coroner."
I have to smile, even as I chafe, as always, at our familys patented inability to express emotion during watershed events. There is no occasion calling for sincerity that the Foxman family wont quickly diminish or pervert through our own genetically engineered brand of irony and evasion. We banter, quip, and insult our way through birthdays, holidays, weddings, illnesses. Now Dad is dead and Wendy is cracking wise.
It serves him right, since he was something of a pioneer at the forefront of emotional repression.
"It gets better," Wendy says.
"Better? Jesus, Wendy, do you hear yourself?"
"Okay, that came out ...
Be warned: you will laugh. You may not always be proud of why you're laughing, but unless you're a paragon of virtue who can resist all urges to indulge in a little schadenfreude, you will laugh. Laughter aside, however, beneath Tropper's wicked sense of humor there is a universal substructure of wisdom that is applicable to all families and blood relationships. Read it and weep… and laugh.
(Reviewed by Donna Chavez).
Full Review (926 words).
The word "shiva" (pronounced SHIHvah) is derived from the Hebrew word sheva which means "seven." Sitting shiva means that the family of a loved one usually reserved for the family of a deceased spouse, parent or child gathers in that loved one's home for seven days. Friends and family visit to support the family as they take time to mourn, and to remember the life of the deceased. While they may not observe the more orthodox practices outlined below, many Jewish families retain the spirit of the tradition in the form of an extended wake, in which friends and family stop by to share memories and grieve together.
Members of the immediate family sit on chairs that are low to the ground historically ...
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