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HOW TO TALK TO A WIDOWER by Jonathan Tropper


by Jonathan Tropper

Pub Date: July 17th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-385-33890-5
Publisher: Delacorte

Bereft hipster stuck in suburbia struggles to rejoin the world of the living after losing his wife in a plane crash.

In a full-on retreat from human contact, 29-year-old Doug Parker passes the year following the death of his wife of two years in a numb Jack Daniel’s–fueled haze. An anomaly in the upper-middle-class town of New Radford, the freelance writer only moved there to be with Hailey, a divorcee ten years his senior. Doug copes with the loss through his popular monthly “How to Talk to a Widower” magazine column, while fending off the advances of the local womenfolk, who yearn to ease his pain. Both hyper-aware of his unique situation, yet filled with self-loathing, he struggles mightily with the realization that his career success, comfortable home and affluence (via a fat airline settlement) all stem from Hailey’s death. He also has to deal with conflicted feelings for Hailey’s son Russ, a sensitive but troubled teenager who is in worse shape than Doug. Feeling unwelcome in the home of his womanizing dad, Jim, Russ dabbles in drugs and gets into fights. He needs a stable male figure in his life—a role Doug hardly feels qualified to take on. Meanwhile, Doug’s bossy twin sister Claire suddenly moves in with him after her marriage falters, taking it upon herself to get her brother dating again, demanding that he begin to say “yes” to life. Doug goes out on a series of comically unsuccessful dates, while flirting with Russ’s foxy guidance counselor Brooke. He also succumbs to the hottest of his desperate housewives, Laney Potter, setting off a chain of events culminating at the wedding of his baby sister Debbie, a brittle overachiever. With strong, impossibly beautiful female characters and naughty, unworthy men, Tropper’s latest (Everything Changes, 2005, etc.) is a resigned yet hopeful examination of grief with a side of human absurdity.

Warm and modestly knowing, with a wisecracking slacker hero.