Drew Silver is an aging one hit wonder, and middle age has not been kind to him. While the former front man of his band is enjoying a successful solo career, and his gorgeous ex-wife is about to marry a successful surgeon, Silver survives off of royalty checks from “The Bent Daisies” only chart topper and by drumming in a wedding band. Oh, and his estranged eighteen-year-old daughter just confided in him that she’s knocked up, revealing that she only shared the news with him because she’d rather disappoint him than her mother.
Amidst this drama, Silver manages to land himself in the hospital with a heart condition that necessitates surgery. Without the surgery, he will die. Silver refuses with the clichéd reasoning that the constant threat of death will force him to finally truly live. He thus commences a journey to redemption for the wrongs that he has committed against not only his loved ones, but against himself as well.
This is only the second Jonathan Tropper novel that I’ve read, but he seems affluent in the topics of dysfunctional families and the mid-life crisis. His novels are full of eccentric yet charismatic characters that we can’s help but root for in spite of their inadequacies. At times, One Last Thing Before I Go feels a bit like Wonder Boys, at least in terms of the whole “when it rains it pours” treatment regarding Silver’s current situation. Michael Chabon pulls this off brilliantly with Grady Tripp, but Tropper isn’t too far behind. Silver has done some rotten things, and yet we can’t help but like him anyway. That’s hard to pull off, and Tropper does it well. He also blends rather ridiculous situations with a genuine display of human emotions, his descriptions of which will often give the reader pause. Offhanded comments such as “She feels guilty, primarily about not feeling guilty, and wonders if that’s the same thing,” and “the only thing worse than not having your dream come true is having it come true for a little while” will stick with you long after you’ve finished the novel. Entertaining and touching, Tropper’s books are easy and rewarding, and I have no doubt that I’ll plow through all of them.