Thursday 26 December 2013

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper

Meet Silver. Forty-four, divorced and living alone. His once celebrated music career is now a faded memory and his ex-wife is about to marry another man. The only good thing in Silver's life is his Princeton-bound teenage daughter, Casey - and she would probably say the exact opposite about him. So in Silver's opinion, things could be going better . . . a lot better. 
Then Casey drops a bombshell: she's pregnant. Yes, it was her first time, and, no, she hasn't told her mom. Silver knows things have got to change, and when he discovers he has a fatal heart condition that means he could drop dead at any minute, he decides it's time to make a list: 
1. Be a better father
2. Be a better man
3. Fall in love
4. Die 
But the question is, can Silver rebuild his life, regain the respect of his family, and be there for Casey when she needs him most, or has he left it all too late?

One Last Thing Before I Go is Jonathan Tropper's sixth novel, and was published in the UK in January 2013 by Orion Books.

Silver is divorced, living in a hotel that is populated largely by other men in the same situation and existing on the royalties from his one big hit record, and his weekly trip to the medical research centre where he is paid to jerk off into a plastic cup - all in the name of science.   Silver used to be famous, he was the drummer in the band The Bent Daisies, he wrote their massive hit Rest In Pieces.  Silver used to be married, he used  to have a daughter that adored him, he used to be someone.

When Silver’s teenage daughter Casey appears, calls him ‘Dad’ and tells him that she’s pregnant, Silver is determined that he will play the supportive father role – it’s better late than never surely?  If he’s honest, this makes him feel wanted, makes him feel as though he can do something for Casey – at long last.

Things don't quite go to plan, and Silver finds himself in hospital, being diagnosed with a heart condition that could kill him at any time.  It doesn't help that the diagnosis comes from Rich; the guy who is due to marry Silver's ex-wife Denise.  Rich is a successful, good-living, wealthy guy who loves Denise and Casey, who can give them the life that Silver never did.

Silver makes his list.  Refusing to have the potentially life-saving operation, he makes a list; Be A Better Father - Be A Better Man - Fall In Love - Die.   

What follows is a story that is witty, poignant, laugh out loud funny and terribly terribly sad.  As Silver tries his best to make amends, to make changes, he usually succeeds in making everything a whole lot worse. Jonathan Tropper has a genius way with words, and creates characters that the reader can't help but care for, despite their many faults and their sometimes just ridiculous behaviour.   He has conveyed the feelings of the hopeless, but also the hopeful so well.   

Silver is a character that the reader should despise, but it is very difficult not to actually fall in love with this guy who really does try his best.  My favourite line from Silver is one that totally sums him up;

"If you're eating an ice cream cone, it's just very hard to believe that things have gone completely to shit.  That there isn't still hope"

One Last Thing Before I Go is contemporary fiction at its very best.  Highly recommended.

Jonathan Tropper was born and raised in Riverdale, New York.  He attended the creative writing program at New York University Graduate School of Arts and Science, where he received a Masters degree.  He is the New York Times bestselling author of five previous novels; Plan B, The Book of Joe, Everything Changes, How To Talk to a Widower, and This Is Where I Leave you.  His books have been translated into more than twenty languages.  He is also a screenwriter and the cocreator and executive producer of the HBO/Cinemax television series Banshee.  He lives with his wife and children in Westchester, NY, and teaches writing at Manhattanville College.

For more information visit his website and Twitter @Jtropper

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