Drew Silver is dying in many ways: his marriage has been over for seven years, his ex-wife is getting remarried, his career as a rock drummer is long past, his 18-year-old daughter is pregnant, and he has a life-threatening heart condition. Tropper finds unexpected humor in all of these incongruous elements.
Silver has never been much of a dad or a husband, so when he finds out about his defective heart, he determines he will not have a life-saving operation. After all, what does he have to live for? He’s lived long enough to see the breakup of his band, The Bent Daisies, and his music career ended with their one-hit wonder, “Rest in Pieces.” Now he’s living his days with other losers at The Versailles, a run-down motel. To his credit, the awareness of his precarious health causes him to rethink his pathetic life, and he’s able to come up with a to-do list that includes “Be a better father. Be a better man. Fall in love. Die.” By the end of the novel he’s able to cross almost everything off. Knowing he’s going to die concentrates his mind, and even the surgeon—both coincidentally and ironically his ex-wife Denise’s fiancé—can’t persuade Silver to undergo the operation. Silver is able, albeit briefly, to reestablish intimacy with Denise, and Casey, Silver’s daughter, effects a temporary reconciliation that leads her to call her father “Dad” (which both perplexes and pleases him) instead of “Silver.” In other words, what Silver ultimately achieves is to move beyond the inscription he imagines on his tombstone: his name, the years of his birth and death, and a phrase, the acronym for which is “WTF?”
Tropper entertainingly examines the angst of middle-age masculinity as he looks at Silver, a man both growing up and growing old.