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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: It Books (October 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060989270
  • ASIN: B000ENBPTS
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,379,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In his debut novel Tommy's Tale, Alan Cumming writes like the love child of Nick Hornby and Dan Savage. His protagonist, Tommy, an E-popping, pansexual Londoner, reads like one of Hornby's won't-grow-up urban Peter Pans. The plot, of course, lies in seeing these characters dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood. Tommy eventually follows this story arc, but with a lot of absolutely filthy sex thrown in along the way--that's where the Dan Savage factor comes into play. Like that august columnist, Tommy never met a sex act he didn't want to a) engage in, and b) describe in lifelike detail. Aside from his sexcapades, Tommy spends his time hanging out with his sort-of boyfriend Charlie, working as a photographer's assistant, taking drugs, and creating a bohemian dream flat with his beloved roommates. His life is about fun until he finds himself growing attached to Charlie's 8-year-old son Finn. As a result of this relationship, he develops an itch to have a kid of his own, and the rest of this hyperkinetic, diaristic novel is devoted to that pursuit. Unfortunately, Tommy is a narrator utterly without a filter--he just natters on and on about whatever enters his head. At best, this style is chatty. At worst, it's out-and-out logorrhea. As an actor and a screenwriter, Alan Cumming is a dizzyingly sophisticated, gleefully ironic, and achingly sentimental force. Alan Cumming as an author is, well, not. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A young British pansexual with a penchant for chemical and physical excess stars in award-winning actor Cumming's (Cabaret, Eyes Wide Shut) zany debut. As his 30th birthday looms, Tommy grapples with both his desire to have a child and his fear of settling down. He also embarks on numerous benders ("I have coke spilling out of my left nostril, a ten-pound note jammed up my right"), while roommates Bobby, a gay lamp-shade designer, and Sadie, a mother-figure of sorts, plus lover Charlie and Charlie's eight-year-old son, try to help Tommy grow up. Cumming infuses the narrative with obscenities, puns, pop culture references and fairy tales, the latter appearing at crucial points in the plot as thinly veiled stories about Tommy himself. Cumming also gleefully overemploys the literary gimmick: there are lists of advice on anything from drinking to depression, flashbacks, jump cuts ("we're doing one of those time-jump things," Tommy notes), subtitles, interviews and direct appeals to the reader. Though at times insightful and clever ("Charlie belonged to that lucky, lucky group of normal people who are not waiting for their lives to start," Tommy says of his lover), the book often feels as hysterical and muddled as its narrator does. While Cumming explores plenty of graphic sexual escapades, bigger matters-such as Tommy's transformation from boy to man at the book's end-are left unexamined. At the core of this book is a charming personality-intelligent, frolicking, sensitive and sexual-but only rarely does it emerge from amid the extremes of story and style.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This was the most fun I've had reading a book in a long time.
QueensGirl
It rambles on a little too long, to the point where you do not care about these characters and their lives anymore.
Joseph J. Hanssen
The autobiographical content on each book is worthy of further study.
C. I. Rodman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Joseph J. Hanssen on September 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was going to be an exciting read, with all the hype, advertisement, and promotion this book has been receiving. However, I was a little disappointed. Yes, this would make a great story, but......after so many chapters of indecisive plotlines, it gets a little annoying. The numbered outlines about his depression all become a little redundant when repeated again and again through-out the book. And the fairy tale chapters intermingled through-out the book really ruined the flow of the book, and for no good reason. The author states in Chapter 16, "Sometimes I think Sadie should be the one writing a book", "But not a rambly (his spelling), confessional sort of one like this". I think that explains the whole problem with this book. It rambles on a little too long, to the point where you do not care about these characters and their lives anymore.

I gave this book three stars for one reason only, I found the story itself interesting, even if it was over-dramatized. The story's protagonist is 29 year old Tommy, who lives in London. He has a fear of commitment, doing without his daily drugs, and being unable to live a free and wild lifestyle. He begins to question his life when he meets a new boyfriend with a son named Finn. Can Tommy make a commitment, and at the same time become a father? Can he give up drugs, and his wild nightlife?
This is a easy read, but I found by the end of the book, I could care less about the Tommy character, who is too self-centered, dramatic, and lacking in real emotion. Charlie, Sadie and Bobby were much more likable. Will I read the next book by Cumming's? Yes. This is a debut novel, so we will see if this fine screenwriter and actor, turns out to be a fine novelist in the future, too.

Joe Hanssen
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
At one point in this novel, the narrator Tommy says that the book he is writing is "a rambly, confessional sort of one. . ." If that was Mr. Cumming's goal he achieved it although at times I got impatient with his chatty, meandering, self-absorbed and self indulgent hero, if you can call him that. Tommy is a 29 year-old Brit who never met a drug or an orifice as found on either male or female that he didn't want to enter. But he's an equal opportunity type of guy. His orifices are there for the taking too. You see, Tommy lives with two close friends, Sadie and Bob, his extended family, whom he takes baths with; he is seeing Charles who has an eight year old son, whom Tommy adores. Then there are India and other women and men along the way with whom he shares both his body and drugs.
Tommy is an arm-chair philosopher as well and has opinions on practically every subject. For example, he abhors the term "making love". "Making love sounds like a hobby, don't you think? Like a kit you'd buy from B&Q. It sounds like a Marks and Spencer frozen meal. It sounds like death, and if you didn't get it you were out of the picture." And in what must be a first in fiction, Tommy gives a page and a half treatise on the dilemma men face in choosing whether to stand or sit while urinating.
Mr. Cumming is certainly a clever and amusing writer. A character paints the town puce. Another character is described as "the aforementioned artist formerly known as girlfriend." And Tommy wonders why no one has ever told the queen "how weird her hair looks." (I wonder about that, myself, since the press tells her almost daily how weird her family is.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Josh Aterovis on April 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Tommy's Tale is described on its jacket cover as "rollicking". And it is. Written by Alan Cumming, this book is sharp, smart, laugh-out-loud funny, and surprisingly poignant. Tommy, the narrator of the story, is a 29-year-old adolescent. He has made a choice not to grow up and he revels in his decadent lifestyle. Living in London with his friends and roommates Sadie and Bobbie, he lives a self-indulgent life of drugs, sex, and parties.
As he approaches his thirtieth birthday however, Tommy suddenly finds himself faced with the very emotions and feelings he's been trying so hard to avoid. It seems like everyone is telling him to grow up, including his sort-of boyfriend Charlie, who is ready for more of a commitment. Even Charlie's charming eight-year-old son wants Tommy to be more responsible and be his "second daddy". Most demanding, though, is Tommy's own desire to have a true family of his own.
Tommy's bad decisions continue to pile up, and he resorts to more and more drug use in an effort to stem the rising tide of depression. Will he be able to overcome his excesses and be the man his friends and family need him to be?
This is Alan Cumming's first novel, but I'm hoping it won't be his last. Cumming is better known for his Tony Award-winning turn as the emcee in Cabaret. He has also starred in quite a few recent movies, including his critically acclaimed cowritten, coproduced, codirected and costarred The Anniversary Party. Cumming writes in a very personal style. It feels as if you are having a conversation with an old friend in your favorite bar. He has a knack for capturing the small things in life that make his story feel all the more real. This isn't for the moralistic or squeamish.
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