There is a moment repeated for effect in One Last Thing Before I Go that underscores everything wrong with Jonathan Tropper’s sixth novel. Here’s how it goes: our protagonist Silver, “forty-four years old…out of shape, and depressed,” does something not totally vile, but objectionable enough to create conflict. Maybe he bucks social norm or speaks his mind when inappropriate. Each time, whatever person present, such an action provokes the following statement: Jesus, Silver, you are an asshole. This happens over and over and over and over again.
But in most situations, calling someone an asshole doesn’t resolve a conflict. It may provoke introspection or further conversation. Like, you’re being an asshole, and you’re affecting people in ways X, Y, and Z. In One Last Thing Before I Go, however, it’s said with an undercurrent of begrudging kindness, and seems to move the story along.
Not that the accusation is untrue. Drew Silver—always referred to as just Silver, by his father, daughter, ex-wife, everyone really—is most definitely an asshole. I just don’t think assholes deserve three hundred pages devoted to their epic journey from asshole to bigger asshole to biggest asshole to mild asshole. Continue reading