I love when a book makes me laugh out loud.
I don’t realize how little I laugh when reading until I do it. Maybe that’s because fiction isn’t labeled like movies as “drama” or “comedy” and separated out into sections. Maybe because so many of the books I read include humor that wouldn’t necessarily be labeled comedy.
Like the comedy of recognition. Or the comedy that induces wincing. Or the comedy of ‘relief’ – of ‘thank goodness that’s not my life.’
“This is Where I Leave You,” by Jonathan Tropper, is a comedy wrapped up in family drama (is there any kind of fictional family?).
What made me laugh first was (without spoiling it) a small omission by the narrator in the first chapter of the book that, once revealed, makes the scene nearly slapstick in its imagery, but so revealing of the main character that it is hilariously real.
About halfway through the book, as I alternately laughed, winced, and thanked God it wasn’t me, I thought, “This should be a movie.”
There was just something about the novel – the many characters, the witty dialogue, the intertwining plots that bordered on melodrama – that made me want to see what was in my head in ‘real life.’ And of course, when I checked the back of the book flap, it mentions they are making a movie.
This book has much in common with one of my favorite books, “The Corrections,” by Jonathan Franzen. The harried, weird family with overlapping dramas. This isn’t a knock on either book, but while “The Corrections” was more literary (every sentence was perfect!), there is something in the less literary and less perfect tone of “This is Where I Leave You” that makes it less dire. And much funnier.
Read both, and see what you think. Or just read both!