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Tomcat in loveby Tim Obrien
Synopses & Reviews
Tim O'Brien is known as a "Vietnam" writer, primarily because his novels and stories about that particular catastrophe and its aftermath are without question among the finest ever written. O'Brien won the 1979 National Book Award for Going After Cacciato; the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for his classic collection; The Things They Carried (which was also a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award); and both the James Fenimore Cooper Prize and Time Magazine's best novel of 1994 for In the Lake of the Woods.
After this last novel, a dark, brooding mystery, O'Brien felt drained, used up, and told a disappointed public that he had decided to stop writing fiction, and officially retired. Thankfully, O'Brien's retirement lasted about as long as Michael Jordan's. After some nagging by his crafty editor, he agreed to write a nonfiction book, a memoir. He was soon calling his editor in despair, "I can't write the book," he told him, "it keeps veering into fiction." Tactfully hiding his glee, O'Brien's editor casually encouraged him: "Veer away," he told him. Four years later O'Brien handed over the manuscript to Tomcat in Love. Though O'Brien technically violated his resolution to stop writing fiction, Tomcat in Love did mark a clear departure from his earlier work. First of all, it's hilarious. O'Brien had already demonstrated, in works such as Going After Cacciato, that he is a gifted satirist. But Tomcat in Love, a classic farce, revealed a completely new, lighter Tim O'Brien. As one would expect from a writer of O'Brien's caliber, his farce is very, very funny. If sexist, narcissistic, egomaniacal Thomas Chippering is one of the most sympathetic unsympathetic characters in recent years, Tomcat's horrendous gaggle of malicious ex-wives, manipulative coeds, and terrifyingly precocious eight-year-olds make up one of fiction's most entertaining supporting casts. Farley, Powells.com
A wildly funny, brilliantly inventive novel about a man torn between two obsessions: the desperate need to win back his former wife and a craving to test his erotic charms on every woman he meets. He is 66" tall, a cross between Ichabod Crane and Abe Lincoln. He is a professor of linguistics, bewitched by language, deluded about his ability to win the hearts of women with his erudition and physical appeal. He is Thomas H. Chippering, a.k.a. Tomcat, a masterly addition to the pantheon of unforgettable characters in American fiction. And in his private dictionary of love, three entries stand out.
Tampa. Just the word makes Tom Chipperings blood curdle. Thats where his ex-wife, the faithless Lorna Sue, now lives with a suntanned tycoon whose name Chippering refuses to utter.
Revenge. If Chippering cant get Lorna Sue back, at least he can wreak havoc with her new marriage. (How about some strategically placed lingerie in the tycoons "ostentatiously upscale Mercedes"?) He also has plans for Lorna Sues brother, Herbie, with whom she has always had an unnaturally close relationship.
Love. His ex-wife may have disapproved, but is Chipperings fondness for women — especially the nubile coeds who attend his classes — really so wrong? And now love finds a new form: Mrs. Robert Kooshof, the attractive, demanding, and, of course, already married woman who may at last satisfy Chipperings longing for intimacy.
Tim O'Brien — acclaimed for his fiction about the Vietnam War — has now taken on the battle between the sexes with astonishing results. By turns hilarious, outrageous, romantic, and deeply moving, Tomcat in Love gives us a blundering, modern-day Don Juan who embodies the desires and bewilderments of men everywhere.
"Tim O'Brien is an astonishing writer. Tomcat begins at a high pitch and maintains it." Chicago Tribune
"A dark and thoroughly engaging comedy about the danger of obsession and the healing power of love." Kansas City Star
"Wickedly realized...nobody but O'Brien could have written some of the opening vortexes about passion and meaning." Boston Globe
"...[T]he reader can only wonder at the disparity between the power of...earlier books by Mr. Obrien — distinguished by their inventive storytelling and their evocative depiction of the visceral and emotional realities of war — and the mangled mess that is Tomcat in Love." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Funny stuff....Like all comic novels, Tomcat is a complex affair that invites a complex response and offers a complex reward." Jane Smiley, The New York Times Book Review
"Enjoyable, moving, often hilarious." The Seattle Times
"A laugh-a-minute look at a bewildered man's tragicomic search for love in all the wrong places." Hartford Courant
"O'Brien has gone out on a limb, and readers will be hard-pressed not to scurry along after him." San Francisco Book Review
"Tomcat in Love is well — sometimes very well — written. Its plot is carefully worked out and becomes more compelling as the novel proceeds. The characters are only mildly believable, but how believable were the characters in Lolita, another book about a verbally gifted romantic?....Well-written and almost always amusing, Tomcat in Love is an entertaining book from a terrific writer whose real strengths appear to lie elsewhere." Matt Cohen, Globe and Mail
"Here, for all of you with just enough time to skim the paper as you gulp your morning coffee, is the straight scoop: Tomcat in Love is a wonderful novel, laugh-out-loud funny, one of the best books I've come across in years. My advice, something I've offered only once or twice in 12 years of writing about books...is that you waste no more time on this review. Put down the paper. Go out and find a copy of Tomcat in Love now. It really is that good." Washington Post Review
"After all the years of deadly serious writing, O'Brien has swung from the opposite side of the plate with Tomcat. He's hit a home run." Tom Walker, The Denver Post
About the Author
Tim O'Brien received the 1979 National Book Award in Fiction for Going After Cacciato. His novel The Things They Carried won France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent novel, In the Lake of the Woods, was a national bestseller, received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians, and was selected as the best work of fiction of 1994 by Time magazine.
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