©2004 Jonathan Tropper; (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.
"A beautifully crafted book of enormous heart, humility, wit, honesty, and vulnerability. You want to call your friends at 3 a.m. and read whole passages out loud. You want to press it into the hands of strangers. You cannot stop thinking about it because it has rearranged your very molecules. You know that kind of book? This is that kind of book. The Book of Joe is utterly magnificent. I wish I'd written it myself. "(Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors)
"[Tropper] does it with wit, insight, and a lot of fun cultural references." (Booklist)
"The Book of Joe is an elegiac, wickedly observant look at a small town and its secrets. In Jonathan Tropper's highly readable novel, the problem isn't that you can't go home again, it's that eventually you have to, whether you like it or not." (Tom Perrotta, author of Election and Joe College)
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Among the very best that I've ever read, both in print (which I read first) and in audio. Like many other people, I discovered Jonathan Tropper through This Is Where I Leave You and faithfully moved along with him with the follow-up, One Last Thing Before I Go. I went back and read his entire back catalog, also listening to many of them in audio format.
His second novel, The Book of Joe, is the real gem, in my opinion, establishing the formula of a relationship-challenged self-effacing protagonist going back to his roots to face his sick, dying or dead father, rival brother, and long-ago first love, along with various and sundry other characters. All to great comic effect.
What sets this one apart is its framing device: Joe left home and became a literary success writing a thinly-veiled autobiographical novel about his hometown, and now he has to come back and face all the people he wrote about, not necessarily in a flattering way. The results are hilarious -- the opposite of the dark and violent Banshee, the stage-setter for Tropper's light and comic novels.
The book compares so closely to its successors in the Tropper library, his next four books being riffs on similar topics, although his protagonists age along with the author, going from being young single men to married men to divorced men. But the title asks us to compare this story to the biblical Book of Job, as well as the parable of the prodigal son, Joe leaving home and returning like the latter, and suffering tests of faith like the former.
Scott Brick is one of the most prolific audiobook narrators. Not being one to choose books based on narrator, I have nevertheless listened to about a half dozen of his books across a number of different authors. There is a reason he is so much in demand -- he is one of the most reliable voices of audiobooks, no exception here. He is also fighting cancer of the throat, an irony for someone who relies so much on his voice. But he is so far winning that fight -- here's wishing the best to one of the best.
I could go with the title to this review, with word play similar to what Tropper does with The Book of Job -- "The Prodigal Sonny Returns" -- the parable of the prodigal son being as apropos to this story as that of Job. Or how about, "You really can go home again -- if you don't mind messing everything up first." Unfortunately, the book has gone through a couple of production cycles and has so far not made it onto the big screen.
J'ai beaucoup apprécié le style de l'auteur, le narrateur est parfait, mais j'ai été déçue par l'intrigue même si les thèmes abordés sont intéressants.
Really great book! loved the story, the narrator's performance was excelent! the only thing that could have been better is how the author closes the book.
The description says the book is "by turns howling funny, fiercely intelligent, and achingly poignant." Lose the adjectives and I'd agree. Well-written.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
I heard about this book by watching a video of narrator Scott Brick in which he said it was his personal favorite of all his performances. Since he is among my favorite narrators, I decided to download it and am very glad I did. A predictable plot (it's pretty easy to imagine what would happen if you were to leave your small home town for the big city, write a novel that profoundly insults everyone back home, then return home 20 years later) is rescued by a black comic sensibility and great writing that had me laughing out loud one moment and crying actual tears the next. As promised, Mr. Brick delivered a perfect reading of this memorable novel.
Was it the narrator or the story that made me feel with in the first 5 minutes that I had wasted money on this book? Could it be the narrator painstakingly reading the book slowly or was that the way the author wrote it? Either way I was rolling my eyes. Now, after the story is finished I realized I was set up. They had strapped me in to the car, slowly climbed the coaster first hill only to tear down and around the track of this story.
Great character development, laughs, tears and wistfulness for your own youth. I first despised the main character, loathed his self destructive ways then I found him interesting. Joe's friend with AIDS touched me as did his lack of sympathy from his religious mother. Joe's ex-girl friend and his brother's wife wasn't who they seemed in the end. It gave the story it's fast curves, loops and turns.
Just like every ride, the end came as a cushioned but regretful end. The sudden weightlessness as you are lifted off your seat as the whole story came together at the end was a bit of a revelation to me. It gave me some insight on how I dealt with my husband's sudden death and my children"s loss.
Pay your ticket, strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.
If I could remember who recommended this book to me I'd sock them in the eye - or more likely write them a nasty email.
But to be fair - had I been looking for a reference source for cliches this would have been a great find. And Johathan Tropper did write convincingly in the voice of a high school boy - but anyone who's read the fiction writing of high school students might question if that is a good thing.
And the whole meta-thing was set at full volume: a writer writing about a writer who was remembering what he wrote while writing a new book? Young aspiring writers of America hear my plea: Stop Writing About Writing.
70 year old grandmother of 2 teenagers. Still working in real estate appraisal field, live in OH and SC - spend time listening & traveling.
I THINK this might have been a good book. It was narrated by Scott Brick - my favorite - and had potential for a great listen. Unfortunately, the author seems to think that every character regardless of age or background or role in society MUST say the "F" word every 15 seconds. If this doesn't bother you, then you must have a very limited vocabulary or just not mind hearing the same stupid word over and over. I have often wondered if the characters substituted the word "walk" for the "F" word - how long would we listen to the drivel?? "Did you walk her?" "Did she walk your brains out?" "What the walk are you saying?" "That's a walking lie!" How walking stuped are we???
I would like the author to tie up loose ends, and show some growth in maturity for his main character over the 17 years(!) he has been absent from his hometown.
I have read a couple of other, later books and found them more focused.
His portrayal of the self-involved, slightly whiny main character was pretty spot on.
It was just OK. There were too many questions left unanswered: Could the main character have apologized for the book he wrote? Was any disciplinary action taken against the townsperson who tried to kill him? What was the reason he broke up with his girlfriend originally?
It was pretty unbelievable that the main character could return to his hometown after 17 years and almost nothing had changed. The same people still live there, playing virtually the same roles.
I enjoyed the narrator's version very much. The story is interesting and leaves room for thought. We read it in our book club and it led to a lively discussion
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