How to Talk To A Widower

I love my aunt’s taste in books and movies, probably because she has shaped me profoundly in my teenager years with the books she gave me as presents and the movies and TV shows we watched together.

From Arthur Miller, Truman Capote (not necessarily Breakfast at Tiffany’s but more his relationship with murderer Perry Smith in the book In Cold Blood) to Charles Bukowski, and TV series like Al Bundy, and The Golden Girls to Hitchcock movies, Taxi Driver and Angel Heart (when Mickey Rourke was still handsome as hell).

When I was on vacation in Germany, I asked my aunt for some book recommendations for killing time on train rides and she didn’t disappoint me.

She recommended How To Talk To A Widower by Jonathan Tropper.


Doug Parker is a widower at the age of twenty-nine trying to deal with his grief. His egocentric funny family, life in a suburb, and sixteen year-old stepson are part of the story.


People compare him to Nick Hornby who wrote About A Boy and High Fidelity, for example.


What I enjoyed reading this book was little passages of sharp observations of contemporary life situations mixed with a lighthearted wisdom, British humor (in the sense of making you love a loser for not taking himself too serious), well-dosed pinches of sarcasm, and a touch of Hollywood romantic comedy. He is American after all. 


Grief is a topic most people don’t know how to deal with. And for the ones grieving it is a lifetime process to live with the loss of a loved one, even if (or especially because) the relationship was difficult.

It’s a sensitive topic but, if I may say, I think that the book does a fine job in describing grief while constantly telling little stories that make you laugh out loud.


I won’t be surprised when Hollywood turns up with a movie script for Jonathan Tropper’s book.

I’m looking forward to reading more from him.