Author Steven Drew Goldberg
Selected for admission to Book Review Party
ONE LAST THING TO DO BEFORE I DIE by Steven Drew Goldberg is a thought-provoking and comedic novel that explains why Max Wiseman, a rich and successful lawyer in Manhattan, would want to kill himself. It also answers why before committing suicide he decides to travel across the country to find Derrick Frankenmeyer, the person he hated most in his life.The story is told in the first person through Max’s disillusioned eyes, his razor sharp wit, his keen social observation, and his hysterical intolerance for ignorance and immorality. It will make you laugh out loud and think about what is truly important in life.
GEMS: Whether you think Max Wiseman is a likable or deplorable character is almost a secondary topic in this richly woven thematic story. It’s not a simple matter of like or dislike, agree or disagree, but rather a philosophical journey towards understanding and ultimately, acceptance. The main character is a vessel through which greater questions and self-reflection of both individual and universal shortcomings of society emerge. In this contemporary novel, a pro-suicide argument is made and based on the character’s perspective, seems to be a rational and appropriate ending. Also, the incorporation of media’s influence on culture is cleverly used and supports Earl’s theory that this generation’s depression or disillusionment stems from images of how we think things should be, rather than how things truly are. In addition, through the tedious and outright hilarious preparations and travels leading up to the last thing Max must do before he dies, certain realizations come to light. Human beings in general are cliché. We tend to repeat behavior, respond and speak in particular ways and patterns whether we want to admit it or not. We have the propensity to be self-righteous and hypocritical. Even though most of us would like to change, we seldom will and if we do, it will not be terribly drastic because it is not in our nature or habit. To deny this is naive and irrational. Sure, we can give money to a charity and recycle, but most people during their lifetime will not experience a grand epiphany, and if they claim to, they will make only subtle changes. This is a truth most of us can live with, but Max cannot. In this story, change takes place and slight epiphanies occur, but nothing so monumental that it ultimately changes Max’s course or perspective of the world. Some might find this disappointing, but I believe it lends credibility to Max’s argument (he is a lawyer after all), and further cements his decision. I applaud Goldberg for sticking to the right and only final course for this particular character. Besides, it’s the first book in a long time that actually made me laugh out loud!
FLAWS: Perhaps the rants and redundant explanations carry on a bit long, but I found them hilarious. If you’re looking for a happy ending you might wish for an alternate outcome. Some might find it hard to live with the one they get.
Recommend to readers who are fans of Chuck Palahniuk and A.M. Homes (This Book Will Save Your Life).