onelastthingSo, Jonathan Tropper has a “new” book out. New is in quotes for two reasons. First, it came out in hardcover over a year ago (seriously though, who has time for hardcover any more?) Second, and more importantly to this particular post, is it really that new?

If you’ve read one Jonathan Tropper novel, you’ve probably read them all. Before even getting my hands on One Last Thing Before I Go, I had a general idea that the plot featured a down-on-his-luck, 30-40 year old man trying to reconcile his life, family and world while he grapples with officially becoming an adult.

Once it arrived and I started reading, I found I wasn’t too far off.

But, the point I want to make is… so what?

I like his books. I’ll continue to like his books and I don’t really care that a lot of them are very similar. I doubt seriously he’s going to go down as this generation’s Ernest Hemingway, but that’s not really the issue. The fact of the matter is that Tropper writes alarmingly relatable characters and situations. He places them in contexts and plots that, while familiar, lead almost exclusively to endings that aren’t fully resolved. And, perhaps most importantly of all, his books are incredibly fun and easy to read. Isn’t that the point?

Now, if you’re one of those types that enjoys reading books like Ulysses while simultaneously reading a companion text just to understand what the (curse word) is going on… more power to you. I am related to one of those people and if that’s what floats your boat, go for it.

It’s not like these books are coming out every few months, flooding the literary world with the same stuff. At the pace he’s been at since 2000, we’re looking at, roughly, one every two years. The first encounter I had with him was with his 2009 smash hit, This is Where I Leave You. I loved it so much that I immediately went and purchased the rest of the collection (in order of enjoyment: The Book of Joe, How to Talk to a Widower, Plan B and in a distant fourth place, Everything Changes). It dawned on me shortly into book two that there was a pattern here. By the time I finished his fourth, I knew the deal.

Let’s be clear: on my end, this is not meant to be a slight, at all, to Tropper. In fact, only the opposite. Maybe his stories are a bit too similar and characters a bit too familiar, but this is a quality writer. This is a man whose stories, regardless of content, flow smoothly and tend to effortlessly weave dark humor and dramatic events. It’s a combination not-so-easily achieved (Trust me, I know from personal experience).

So, with all that said, there’s something to the value of reaching a high level of quality and meeting it every time. Here’s an example: Mos Def is a rapper that I used to love. His first album, Black on Both Sides, was incredible. Ask any legit fan of the genre, it’s a classic. However, as time went on, Mos felt the need to explore new creative sounds and the resulting music has never (NEVER) been as good. Then he dove into acting for a bit. And you know what? I’m not knocking him for trying any of those things. He’s not a bad actor at all and frankly, who am I to tell an artist not to explore a creative urge? But, I’m not going out and buying any of his records any longer.

Tropper might be dipping into the same story and character well a few too many times, but if they’re enjoyable, I don’t mind. Maybe there will come a day when I will get sick of them, but I doubt it.

So, I could spend time talking about the characters and relationships and quips in One Last Thing Before I Go, but what good would that do? If you haven’t read Tropper yet, give this one a whirl. And if you already have and liked the feeling, it’s like returning to your comfortable bed in the house you grew up in. It’s familiar and that’s a good thing.