06 June 2010

Books: Plan B by Jonathan Tropper (2000)

Plan B was Jonathan Tropper’s first novel, released in 2000 and is about 5 friends who graduated from New York University and went out into the world, fresh-faced and full of dreams for the future.

And then they turned 30.

I remember when I turned that age, it was 1992. I had been living in Northern California for almost 2 years, and things were going from good to rotten quickly. Part of the reason was my room mate had left the Bay Area to return to the Midwest to continue what he studied for in college, leaving me alone (well, sort of) in a seemly strange land. Then a return trip to Chicago reenforced the feelings of loneliness. A short time after I returned to California, my grandmother passed, followed a few weeks later of me turning 30. All this angsty stuff eventually led me back to Chicago. Oddly, it was the biggest mistake I could make. It would take me 13 years to get back here, but you all know that.

Anyways, back to Plan B. Ten years have passed since Ben, Lindsey, Chuck, Alison, and Jack left college, but turning thirty shows was never supposed to be like this: Ben's getting a divorce; Lindsey's unemployed; Alison and Chuck seem stuck in ruts of their own making; and Jack is getting more publicity for his cocaine addiction than his multimillion-dollar Hollywood successes.

Tropper delves into the heart of what thirty has represented for all of us, which is usually realizing we are past the age when our parents had us; that your older than the current popular actors, athletes and musicians. And what we hoped for at twenty sometimes does not happen by the time we reach that milestone.

With this debut, Tropper would explore the themes that have become his staple; that life never goes as planned, love is messy and that no matter what, you are growing older, and not, in fact, immortal.

In some ways, however, I’m glad I read some of his later works (starting with This Is Where I Leave You and The Book of Joe, which are stronger novels), as the book relies on too much sentimentality and sitcom one-lines, but it’s a cute comic riff on growing up and learning life, like friendship, will sometimes take its time course correcting your life. But I like this guy a lot, anyways, and will now take How to Talk to a Widower, his 2007 release (and last of his current canon that I’ve read).

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