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Tomcat in Loveby Tim O'Brien
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
In this wildly funny, brilliantly inventive novel, Tim O'Brien has created the ultimate character for our times. Thomas Chippering, a 6'6" professor of linguistics, is a man torn between two obsessions: the desperate need to win back his former wife, the faithless Lorna Sue, and a craving to test his erotic charms on every woman he meets.
But there are complications, including Lorna Sue's brother, Herbie, with whom she has an all-too-close relationship, and the considerable charms of Chippering's new love, the attractive, and of course already married, Mrs. Robert Kooshof, who may at last satisfy Chippering's longing for intimacy.
In Tomcat in Love, Tim O'Brien takes on the battle of the sexes with astonishing results. By turns hilarious, outrageous, romantic, and deeply moving, this is one of the most talked about novels in years: a novel for this and every age.
"Tim O'Brien's new book is a tunny, occasionally moving novel which follows Thomas 'Tomcat' Chippering's obsessive pursuit of his ex-wife and his desire for revenge. Chippering, a linguistics professor who refuses to speak the name of his romantic rival, is an incurable flirt. He insists on the depth of his love for his wife even as he blunders from one amorous disaster to the next. Tomcat In Love is a smooth, probably harmless read, which, unfortunately doesn't measure up to the standards Tim O'Brien set for himself with the Things They Carried and Going After Cacciato, which won the National Book Award. Even taken on its own, however, Tomcat In Love never quite manages to come alive and Tomcat, who narrates his own story, is so completely deluded and obnoxious that the reader has a hard time deciding who to pull for in this train wreck of a love story." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
"Tomcat in Love is a wonderful novel, laugh-out-loud funny, one of the best books I've come across in years. . . . Go out and find a copy . . . now. It really is that good." Washington Post
"A great American novel." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Tim O'Brien knows cold the spiraling insularity of obsession. . . . Thomas Chippering . . . is wickedly realized. The agility and intelligence that created this pathos-ridden romantic make one marvel at Tim O'Brien's gifts." Boston Sunday Globe
"It's a plain fact; don't argue. Tim O'Brien can flat-out write. . . . Quirky and immensely satisfying. . . . 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." Denver Post
"Wildly funny, accusingly poignant. . . . O'Brien has done a masterful job of depicting all those loose ends, those unmailed valentines, that final abiding question we have all . . . asked of the loved one who has left us behind." San Diego Union Tribune
"Like all comic novels, Tomcat is a complex affair that invites a complex response and offers a complex reward." The New York Times Book Review
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. His 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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