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The Book of Joe | [Jonathan Tropper]

The Book of Joe

Joe Goffman was fifteen years out from his sleepy hometown when he wrote Bush Falls, a searing critique of its people and institutions. The book was a runaway best seller, and led to an even more successful movie. Now, however, Joe's got a problem. His father has suffered a stroke, and that means that Joe has to go back to his birthplace after having successfully antagonized every person living there. Can Joe survive the reservoirs of hatred that have been waiting to pour down upon him? Just maybe.
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Publisher's Summary

In terms of style, wit, and irony, there is no comparison between Peyton Place and Joe Goffman's Bush Falls. But both books stripped away the facade of small-town propriety to reveal the private, indecorous, and unseemly doings underneath. Joe Goffman was fifteen years out from his sleepy hometown when he wrote Bush Falls, a searing critique of its people and institutions. The book was a runaway best seller, and led to an even more successful movie. Now, however, Joe's got a problem. His father has suffered a stroke, and that means that Joe has to go back to his birthplace after having successfully antagonized every person living there. Can Joe survive the reservoirs of hatred that have been waiting to pour down upon him? Just maybe.

©2004 Jonathan Tropper; (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (403 )
5 star
 (144)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.9 (252 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (255 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Jannice Sugar Land, TX, USA 07-04-04
    Jannice Sugar Land, TX, USA 07-04-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Glad I took a chance"

    I wasn't really sure what to expect when I chose this title - I actually was drawn to it initatilly because Scott Brick is the reader and he has always done a good job on other books I've listened to. This is no exception - his reading brings the book alive.
    But I also found myself fully engaged in the story and characters - I laughed out loud too many time to count, and felt moved to tears at other times. Throughout the reading I tried imagining Joe, and I could see John Cusack playing him if it was a movie - kind of a quirky smart aleck but trying to do the right thing.
    There is one unfortunate sexual scene that I thought was unnecessary and unrealistic - probably what a previous reviewer meant when she described this as a boy's book. But it was just one scene and not enough to condemn the whole story. Ultimately I'm glad I took the chance on this book.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    FanB14 05-04-12
    FanB14 05-04-12

    Short, Simple, No Spoilers

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4190
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    "Sarcasm Reigns Supreme"
    What did you love best about The Book of Joe?

    I enjoyed the author's sarcastic tone on the journey through Joe's story, laughing out loud and crying at the end. I felt the author turned some stereotypes upside down. It was a thrilling ride.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    The narrator embodied the main character perfectly. His voice sounded sardonic, bemused, pleased with himself, and sympathetic at times. Good match.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. The book gave me cause to need to stop and process my emotions. I did enjoy listening for long periods of time.


    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Tacoma, WA, USA 06-11-04
    Dan Tacoma, WA, USA 06-11-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful read! Don't pass it by!"

    Couldn't put it down--characters you care about--beautifully written--hilarious and sad. It is at the top of my list of reccommended books.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Bellingham, WA, USA 04-25-04
    Beth Bellingham, WA, USA 04-25-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    "Well-worth listening to"

    The themes of acceptance, responsibility, and letting go of the past are more related to lifestage than gender, and I found this a well-written treatment of them. I found myself unusally touched by dreadfully painful things that happen to the characters, particularly the young ones. The characters are well drawn, and rarely one-dimensional. All in all, I found it an absorbing listen with a nice balance of humor and poignancy.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Grand 07-22-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fun, great plot, well presented"

    I LOVED this audiobook and have listened to it many times. Well reminiscent for those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, with Springsteen references an added bonus -- and for those of us still trying to "grow up" in various ways. The storyline, however, is reflective of things still going on today and still very pertinent. Very well presented, also. Did not find it shallow as suggested by a previous reviewer, although can see where that idea might grab one --but this is a character who is trying to be shallow to aid living in denial, but just can't carry it off because the truth keeps staring him down. Great on all points.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 11-22-11
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 11-22-11 Member Since 2005

    Knowledge is knowing the way. Wisdom is looking for an alternative, more interesting road to get there. Audiobooks are that road.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sorry to see it end"

    Jonathan Tropper’s ability to make you feel like his best friend is what makes his books so enjoyable. His writing is easy, believable and natural.

    The protagonist Joe Goffman had a difficult time in high school. He was seen as a loser and his friends were no better. There were three important people in his life back then, Carly, the girl he loved, Wayne and Sammy, his two best friends who went through their own hell. Joe’s tumultuous high school years left him angry and bitter.

    After high school, he chose to leave his small town of Bush Falls. More as a cathartic exercise with no expectations, Joe wrote a book dissing every one who ever crossed him back home. Never in his wildest dreams did he think his book would become a best seller.
    Then came the call. His father had a stroke and after 15 years Joe would have to return home and face all the people he had maligned so publicly, and each one wanted a piece of him.

    Tropper managed to create believable, rich characters. Disguised by humor, Tropper deals with difficult topics such as bullying, coming out, aids, family relationships and the frustrations and scars of growing up as the underdog.

    The Book of Joe was one of those stories I was sorry to see end. Looks like there is a film in development too.

    As usual, Scott Brick does a stellar job of reading.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Petersburg, VA, USA 01-09-07
    Christine Petersburg, VA, USA 01-09-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "Only get the unabridged!"

    If you are offended by naughty language, hot sex or real people with real pain, this isn't the book for you. But for the rest of us, this is one of the best books of all time. However, it is very important to get the unabridged version. I have heard both and the unabridged beats the abridged every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eileen Tabernacle, NJ, United States 05-14-05
    Eileen Tabernacle, NJ, United States 05-14-05 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved this book"

    Every once in a while I come across a book I wish I had written. This is one of those books. The story is so engaging; the characters are memorable and the writing is just plain great. Add to that the great narration- this is a winner.I recommended this book to several of my friends, all of whom agreed with me. Lest you think this is a "guy's" book or the male version of "chick-lit", let me add that I am female and 20 years older than the characters in the book. I subsequently listened to "Everything Changes" also great. And read Plan B, Tropper's first book. I am just delighted to find such a fresh new talent at the beginning of his writing career and hope there are many more novels in his future.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Devin Sharpsburg, GA, USA 06-15-05
    Devin Sharpsburg, GA, USA 06-15-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My new favorite author"

    This is the second Tropper book I have listened to, and I haven't been let down yet. I love the quirky, early 30's characters that somehow can't help but mess up most of the things in their lives. I guess it is therapy for me - I don't seem half as messed up as I thought I was after reading about Joe's life! If you get this book, be ready to laugh out loud one minute, then be near tears the next. He goes through some tough subject matter, but in a way that doesn't seem too presumptuous or overwhelming. The characters deal with things the best they know how, and it makes for a very interesting story! Try it out!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 06-28-14
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 06-28-14

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Prodigal Sonny Returns"
    Where does The Book of Joe rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What other book might you compare The Book of Joe to and why?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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