The following post was written by Jonathan Tropper and is being posted for him by myself, a huge fan. This is Jonathan's second visit to Porter Square Books. One of the many perks of my job is being able to invite select authors to the store. I have read all of Tropper's books and they just keep getting better and better. You should really check him out in print OR in person Tuesday, August 11 at 7PM!
This Is Where I Leave You is my fifth novel, and like most of my books, it is not the novel I originally set out to write. I started out telling the story of Judd Foxman, who comes home one day to discover that his wife has been sleeping with his boss for the last year, effectively ending his marriage and his career. I was interested in writing about a man in his mid-thirties suddenly stripped of the two things that most defined him. That was the plan.
At one point, midway through my first draft, I brought Judd back for a visit to his childhood home for the first time since his marriage had ended, where he was forced to face his siblings and mother and confess his new reality to them. It was meant to be a single chapter, just another painful experience on Judd’s downward spiral, but then a funny thing happened; the family came to life for me. And as I wrote about Judd’s angry, dysfunctional siblings and his wildly unconventional mother, I realized that the characters, the dialogue, and the writing itself were clicking for me in a way that it hadn’t in all the preceding pages. So, after a few vain attempts to expand the role of Judd’s family in my existing framework, I decided to toss the framework and write the novel about Judd and his family instead. I came up with the idea of a shiva - the Jewish mourning ritual - seven days in which the entire family is basically trapped together under one roof, and it just took off from there.
Over the course of my career I have found that, despite my best laid plans, it is ultimately this sort of happy accident that determines the direction of my books. The trick is in recognizing when it’s happening, and being willing to scrap the blueprint and start over.
I’m looking forward to returning to Porter Square Books on the evening of August 11 to discuss This Is Where I Leave You.
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