Jonathan Tropper’s new book focuses on regretful guy seeking redemption 

New York-based, best-selling writer Jonathan Tropper — coming to the Bay Area this week to promote his latest offering, “One Last Thing Before I Go” — doesn’t necessarily want his fans to read all of his books.

“You’ve got to cleanse your palate,” he says, upon learning that an admirer of the new book and his breakout novel, “This Is Where I Leave You,” had acquired several of his earlier works.

Calling them “belated coming-of-age” tales, the books all have similar protagonists: middle-aged men coming to the realization they haven’t necessarily done the right thing, or made the right choices, particularly when it comes to family.

“I think we all know these guys; we’re just a mistake or two away from becoming them ourselves,” he says during a recent phone call.

But “One Last Thing Before I Go,” about a one-hit wonder rock star, now in a wedding band, whose ex-wife is getting remarried and whose teen daughter is pregnant, represents a departure in various ways.

Written in the third (rather than first) person, with more points of view than his previous books, it’s also bigger, more complex and darker.

“This is about a guy whose ship sunk long ago, and his looking for redemption when it’s too late to fix anything,” says Tropper, who mentions Jay McInerney, Richard Russo, John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Michael Chabon and Joyce Carol Oates among writers he enjoys reading.

Even though more than one of his books has been optioned for film — his books’ jackets often mention it, to his slight lament — Tropper says he tries to write prose and descriptions that would never make it into a movie.

At the same time, he realizes his brand of commercial fiction — with its snappy dialogue, characters who are simultaneously sad and funny, realistic suburban settings, plentiful sex scenes and over-the-top brawling by middle-class guys — makes good movie material.

Although he wrote a screenplay for “This Is Where I Leave You” and the Internet is abuzz with casting choices, Tropper isn’t holding his breath waiting for filming to begin.

“These days, accountants are running the business,” he says.


Jonathan Tropper

Where: Bookshop West Portal, 80 W. Portal Ave., S.F.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday


Contact: (415) 564-8080,

Note: Tropper also appears at 7 p.m. Friday at A Great Good Place for Books, 6120 LaSalle Ave., Oakland.


One Last Thing Before I Go

  • Published by Dutton  
  • 324 pages, $26.95

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Leslie Katz

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