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Tomcat in Love Paperback – September 1, 1999
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"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
"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."
"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
"A great American novel."
"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."
"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
From the Inside Flap
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.
Top customer reviews
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The narrator (Chippering) is as unreliable as a narrator can be, and his whole character highlights the idea that the world is nothing but perceptions, and that perceptions vary for everyone. The power and flexibility of words is a key theme in this text, and I found myself stopping often while reading it to think about the connotations I place on certain words and how my life events have shaped those views.
Chippering is not perfect, polite, or even that self aware, but he is intelligent, wounded, and wants to be loved. He is an amalgamation of so many human emotions, and he desires what most of us want. As he says in the book, "Each of us I suppose, needs his illusions. Life after death. A maker of planets. A women to love, a man to hate. Something sacred." The tragedy of Thomas Chippering is that he has placed value on all the wrong things. Now that his world is crumbling, he begins to see (although O'Brien hints that Chippering will never be fully self aware) that he has wasted much time in self delusion.
This is a comic text, but the themes are deadly serious. "Know thyself" the philosopher said. Sadly, so many of us, like Chippering, don't.
I usually find it difficult to enjoy a novel with a protagonist I can't admire. But Thomas Chippering is so delighfully self delusional that you can't help but giggle as he digs himself in deeper with every scheme he contrives. And yet amazingly you find yourself rooting for this buffoon as reaches new depths of social ineptitude. Other reviewers mention that Chippering is an unreliable narrator, but it is important to realize that he actually believes all the lies he is telling. Half the fun of reading this comic novel is reading between the lines to distinguish where what is really happening diverges from what Chippering is telling you.
This is a funny, funny book. Even so, it confronts the reader with many serious issues, particularly the objectification of women. There's plenty to think about while you are laughing at the characters. That's one reason this book stays with you much longer than most comic novels.
I gave a copy of this novel to my father, and after he finished it he sent it along to my brother. Tim O'Brien is exactly a generation between me and my father, and while there's plenty we can't see eye to eye on, we both found this novel extremely entertaining.
Tim O'Brien is a treasure. Read this book!