When his father suffers a stroke, Joe Guffman returns to the hometown he left behind 17 years before to confront his past and ponder his future. The biggest compliation–Joe wrote a fictional book based on his life growing up in the town that didn’t exactly sit well with some of those who depicted in his novel.
Upon his return, Joe is involved in a bar fight, has a drink thrown in his face and finds copies of his book thrown onto the front lawn. But Joe is having other issues–his second book isn’t working, he’s estrange from his brother and his father is dying. In the midst of all this, Joe seeks to reconnect and make peace with his past, get back with his high school girlfriend who he never really got over and figure out what the future holds for him.
Jonathan Tropper writers about fundamentally flawed males in each of his books and you’ll find no more flawed character than Joe. Told from the first-person persepctive, we see and hear things from Joe’s eyes, as well as getting bits and pieces of the book thrown in. Both work together to create a portrait of Joe who is seeking approval and acceptance by his family and friends all while trying to be his own man and stand on his own two feet, not defined by what others say or the expectations they have of him. With The Book of Joe, Tropper makes some interesting comments on the nature of relationships guys have not only with other guys but with the women around them.
Along the way, you’ll get to know Joe and while you may not always agree with what he’s doing, you’ll still come to like the guy. It’d be easy to say that Tropper is the next Nick Hornby. While Tropper does have some influences from Hornby, it’s clear that he’s an emerging writing just waiting to burst on the scene to a wider audience. Maybe, like Joe, he needs to have one of his books made into a wildly successful film