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PLAN B by Jonathan Tropper


by Jonathan Tropper

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-25253-6
Publisher: St. Martin's

A lightweight first novel explores the sea change that turning 30 brings in the lives of a group of Manhattan friends who've known one another since college. Narrator Ben, a would-be writer, works at Esquire writing lists instead of articles. Recently divorced from a wife he married on the rebound, he still loves his old girlfriend, Lindsey, a former teacher now doing temp work while she finds herself. Chuck, a resident at Mount Sinai, was a fat teenager but is now a womanizer. Allison is a lawyer in a high-powered firm, though her life really revolves around Jack, the one who left New York to become a movie star and happens to have a cocaine addiction. The story centers around the group’s plan to cure Jack by whisking him away to Allison’s family’s vacation place upstate. Naturally, the plan goes awry, since these people seem remarkably naive about drugs and the law. And for all the concern they show in spiriting Jack away, once he really has disappeared and could be at life-threatening risk, they're all too wrapped up in their own soul-searching or romance rekindling to show much real distress. While Tropper clearly has a grasp on the pop culture he describes, he has a habit of comparing his characters’ situations to other fictions, from Star Wars to Three’s Company to the novels of Jay McInerney, which only emphasizes the pop-hodgepodge nature of his own writing. The characters, for all their angst and clever dialogue, are essentially flat, and the predictable denouement is no help. Reads like a fictionalization of TV’s Friends, but more earnest.