Okay, this was Jonathan Tropper's first novel. I am uncertain why I decided not to read it when I was on my Tropper kick, but I didn't, which meant I could read it this month.
The story is cute. Tropper's style is pretty apparent early on with this book. I'm glad this book had enough success that he was able to keep writing, as I liked his later books, too. That five people could be best friends in college and manage to keep the best friend status through all of the subsequent years I find to be the most fictional of this fiction, but I'd like to believe it could happen.
I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to anyone on a Tropper kick. If you want only one Tropper book, make it the Book of Joe. If you want a quick, light, delightful read, this is a good one.
To know him was to know a man of absolute contentment, a loving husband and father, a great friend, a Godfearing man whose ample intelligence did not serve to complicate him, as it does so many people.
"You all accuse me of living in the past, but the truth is I’m thirty years old and I’m still counting on the future to bail me out. And that’s a crock. You can spend years working toward something and get killed before you reach it, so what’s the point?”
I was scared shitless of reality. That it might be something other than this.
Chuck always employed the Socratic method of viewing television shows. He didn’t seem able to enjoy himself without his pointless commentary.
A weary-looking nurse carrying a tray entered the room briskly, her rubber souls squeaking on the waxed linoleum. She threw a disapproving glance at Lindsey perched on the bed and then dropped a paper cup with some pills on my end table.
I cracked up at the "souls." Yay for homonyms!
“I don’t want Sarah back,” I said.
“I know you don’t,” Lindsey said with a tender smile. “I’m not worried about that. But you don’t want her to resent you or hate you either. And you can’t accept the fact that you left something behind, something messy. You want to keep going back to see if you can somehow clean it up, make it more tidy in your mind, but it isn’t going to happen.”
“I know that,” I said.
“And while you’re busy looking back,” she continued, “you’re not looking at what you have right here in front of you.”
“You screwed up in the past. Well, shit happens. You learn what you can, you scrape it off your shoe and you move on. If you can’t do that, you’ll never get the chance to get it right.”
“Divorce means you’ve been permanently changed, and that terrifies you."
Until you found your way out of the woods, it was reassuring to find other people lost in them with you.
“No way,” said the girl above the breasts Chuck was addressing. She was dressed in tight black slacks and an even tighter blue polyester shirt, the bottom three buttons opened to reveal her flat, tanned belly. She seemed very skinny for the breasts she was carrying.
Yeah, I can relate to this one, too.
To lose your father at that age, when he’s still such a powerful presence in your life, constantly shaping your perceptions both intentionally and accidentally with every seemingly insignificant word or gesture, was a loss I would never comprehend.
“The Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man weren’t just helping Dorothy for the hell of it. They all had their own reasons for wanting to see the Wizard.”
“It must be tough,” I said sincerely. “Having no clear line between your reality and your bullshit.”
At thirty, friends are pretty much like bone mass. Whatever you’ve managed to store up until now starts to diminish and is rarely replaced.
Our private world was dissolving, like when the lights come on at the end of a movie and real life starts again.
Time’s surface is slick as oil, and there’s just no way to hold on.