Monday, January 17, 2011

You're a Donkey Hole

I didn't slack this weekend. I accomplished setting up the computer and emptying a couple of more boxes this weekend, which took the ENTIRE weekend. The girl put the DVDs in the DVD shelves. I had other things on the the To Do list so I was a bit disappointed that only two things on the list got accomplished when I felt so busy.

But, I also finished a book, "This is Where I Leave You" (by Jonathan Tropper), which is on my broader To Do list. You know, the one for the year.



It's about Judd Foxman who, still reeling from discovering his wife's affair, suffers the loss of his father and is mandated to sit shiva with his somewhat estranged family.

I'm going to digress and mention one of my mother's gifts. Whether she realized it or not, she often spoke in similes and metaphors. I appreciate this knack of hers much more now that I'm older and realize the beauty of articulating a vision or thought so squarely without directly saying it. My favorite example is when we were visiting a newly married couple in their new house when I was about 8 or 9. There was a huge big meal and for dessert, the wife presented a huge platter piled with honeydew melon chunks. My clear memory of it was being excited by the generous bounty of the platter, only to be disappointed by the discovery that the honeydew melon was severely underripe. Despite this, we all politely smiled as we crunched away. On the drive home, my parents were talking about the couple's new home and I tried to join in adding something about all that honeydew. I remember to this day how my mother immediately scoffed indignantly, "Oh God, it was like eating a cucumber!" And I remember laughing so hard as a child, because my mom nailed it. That is exactly what eating that cold, hard, flavorless underripe honeydew melon was like.

Anyhoo, Mr. Tropper has a similar knack for similes and metaphors, like my mom: "...his bushy eyebrows unfurling like caterpillars" and "...we were a roomful of sweating dominoes, knocking one into another..." See? I can totally picture it.

Also, I enjoyed this book because Mr. Tropper observes with great humor, like his grasp of love over time: "Love made us partners in narcissism, and we talked ceaselessly about how close we were, how perfect our connection was, like we were the first people in history to ever get it exactly right. We were that couple for a while, nauseatingly impervious assholes, busy staring into each other's eyes while everyone else was trying to have a good time. When I think about how stupid we were, how obstinately clueless about the realities that awaited us, I just wanted to go back to that skinny, cocksure kid, with his bloated heart and perennial erection, and kick his teeth in."

Another favorite was capturing that sense when overwhelmed with so much going on in life: "Now it feels like I don't know much about anything. I don't know why planes fly, and what causes lightning, and what it means to short a stock, and the difference between the Shiites and Sunnis, and who's slaughtering whom in Darfur, and why the U.S. dollar is so weak, and why the American League is so much better than the National League." Man, me neither, Judd, I say to myself as I'm reading. I totally relate, Judd.

In some ways, I think the strength of this book lies in the beginning with Judd coming to grips with his marriage and separation after discovering his wife's affair. Here his writing is the most sharp with observational wit. The story feels somewhat stretched out when the shiva introduces a family of characters from a mother (a best-selling author who prefers not to look her age with the help of plastic surgery and offers various pop psychology platitudes) to siblings (including a player-type younger brother and an older brother with a grudge) to neighbors with intimate relationships with the family. Given how much detail was at the beginning regarding his relationship with his wife, it almost seemed like there wasn't enough detail regarding these later characters or plot developments, which left them rendered somewhat too outre or two-dimensional.

But overall, I'd recommend the book for the humorous writing style. It's an easy and enjoyable read. It also included one of my favorite examples of child logic: when called out for saying the word "ass", the parent (who demonstrates that swearing is a common occurrence) explains that she isn't cursing because "ass" is another word for "donkey". The next day the child, annoyed by his sibling, declares "You're a donkey hole!"

Brilliant. How is that not catching on?

5 comments:

Tomb said...
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Pound said...

i want to read!!!! did you get it on kindle? cuz u can share kindle books now. let me know. email me. also do u want the book thief? i'm reading it right now.

Tomb said...
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Tomb said...
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