Dutton, 324 pages
Tropper is frequently compared to Tom Perotta, Nick Hornby and Jonathan Franzen. All are certainly flattering, but Tropper, in his novels of contemporary life and family in America, is very much his own writer. He's funny as hell, not afraid to toss fast- and curveballs at popular culture as texture rather than plot device - and still routinely serves up wonderful and poignant stories. In this, his fifth novel, former one-hit rock star Drew Silver, divorced and a regretfully inept father to his teenage daughter, is sinking into middle-age mediocrity like a medicine ball in a quicksand pit. When faced with emergency, life-saving heart surgery, Silver makes an astonishing decision in an heroic and noble attempt to provide loving support to his daughter in crisis.
- RICK KOSTER