Not the kind of book I would pick up. But it's in the cloud and I might as well check it out. Jonathan Tropper's 'One Last Thing Before I Go'. Glad I read it. It was brilliantly written. Funny and poignant. (Reviews here, here, and here.)
Protagonist Drew Silver who's called 'Silver' by everyone sounds like the typical loser who's drawn the lousiest lot in life. Silver is a has-been drummer of a one-hit-wonder rock band. Long divorced, he lives in an apartment complex named 'Versailles' with an assortment of men who has been thrown out by their ex-wives. He's friendly with neighbors Jack and Oliver, who provide another perspective to life at Versailles with their own stories.
This is Tobey. There is no way to miss the family resemblance, down to the same pattern of baldness. Father and son stand there for a moment, each taking the full measure of the other. Like his wife, Tobey looks past Oliver to the car, and the three of them wave again. Tobey doesn't wave back. Then Jack throws the car into hear and pulls away from the curb, tires squealing. Silver and Casey are thrown back against their seats.
"Jack!" Silver shouts. "What the hell?!"
Jack shouts over the roar of his accelerating engine as he steers them out of the neighborhood. "His son would have to be a real prick to kick him out if he doesn't have a ride."
Silver has to concede that maybe he has a point.
Recently diagnosed with a life-threatening aortic dissection which induces mini strokes would eventually cause death, Silver refused the potentially life-saving operation. Depending on how you see it, Silver wallowed in resignation and perhaps, depression, pissing off his 18 y.o daughter—single and pregnant Casey, ex-wife Denise, and his attending doctor Rich who's Denise's new fiancé, as well as his parents and brother Chuck. The book takes us through his journey and makes us bear witness and decide if he does become a "better father" and a "better man".
Love the ending that is intentionally left ambiguous. The final scene was set in the operating theatre. So one could assume he gave in to all persuasion and opted for surgery which would give him a shot at life for a few more years. But the little memory at the end could also hint at death on the operating table after having kinda dramatically made peace with everyone.
Then I realized that a story like that and all would tend to be made into a film, as how books are nowadays. Paramount Pictures had bought the film rights in 2012; the author negotiated a deal to write the script, and it's supposed to be produced by J.J. Abrams. Okay, whatever.
He thinks about the fact that the lives of everyone close to him seem to improve dramatically once they leave him behind. Denise found herself a better husband, Casey a better father, Pat McReedy a better career. He is a stepping-stone to a better life. No, that would imply that he somehow helped. He is the nonessential ballast that you toss out of the plane to achieve flight.