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Everything Changes, but not Jonathan Tropper

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The jacket of Jonathan Tropper's new book, Everything Changes, shows a man on a tightrope, carrying an umbrella, trying to make his way across the perils of a woman's body. He seems to have gotten stuck right around her crotch. This is an unfortunately accurate depiction of what seems to have happened to Tropper's writing - it revolves around sex and very little else.

Everything Changes is supposed to be the story of a man whose life is turned upside down. The wealthy and boring Zachary King ends up leaving his job, his fiancee, reconciling with his estranged father, taking on an adopted kid, and banging (with the intention of marrying) his best friend's widow. Tropper's plotting is so transparent that we can tell this change is going to occur from the moment we first see King coldly appraising his ice-perfect fiancee, Hope.

The changes, which are supposed to feel like earth-shattering tremors, are more like someone shifting their weight from one leg to the other. Pages are spent on lustfully describing the desired widow - more pages on the physical pains of the aging middle-aged man, with blood in his urine. This is not as edgy as it sounds, but another device, worthy of nothing but a screenplay, to create artificial conflict and tame resolutions.

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After reading Everything Changes we had to go back to Tropper's smashing novel of just one year ago, The Book of Joe, to remember why we liked him in the first place.