My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I cannot remember the last time a book that is merely "about a family" made me laugh so many times. Tropper captures the dynamic of the "dysfunctional Foxman family" perfectly, and while this is a setup that has been used by many authors, many times before, Tropper fills out each character with enough validity and sustains each character's history, reserving the backstory just long enough to keep the reader in suspense but not so long so that we forget we were even interested in what happened to that family member.
The intricacies of the relationships are intense, but not so complicated that we cannot follow them, particularly because Tropper does an excellent job of ultimately tying them back to his narrator, Judd, who has recently discovered his wife in bed with his boss, a popular (or unpopular, depending who you ask) radio figure. The simple plot trick that brings them all together is the death of their father, who never really emerges as much of a character in the reader's eye--but this is okay, because the live characters are so much more interesting, and the point of the novel is not to learn about the deceased, anyway.
My only gripe is that, quite honestly, I didn't like Judd Foxman. As a character, or perhaps as a person, he is boring! He is a completely run-of-the-mill guy, with no special characteristics. He acts (and reacts) rather predictably, and serves as somewhat of a sounding board for the rest of the characters in the novel. His commentary can, at times, be hysterical, but as I finished the novel, I began to wonder whether they were the comments of Judd himself or the comments of Tropper. Because or are Judd and Tropper one and the same? That I would love to know.
The rest of the family members all run the risk of being stock characters, but Tropper never lets them fall over that edge. He keeps them on that realm of "real people-ism," and that in particular is what makes the events of the book especially funny. It's certainly worth a read, no matter how functional you think your family is.