Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tim O'Brien - Tomcat in love

A wildly funny, brilliantly inventive novel about a man torn between two the desperate need to win backhis former wife and a craving to test his erotic charms on every woman he meets.
He is 6'6" 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 Chippering's blood curdle. That's where his ex-wife, the faithless Lorna Sue, now lives with a suntanned tycoon whose name Chippering refuses to utter.
Revenge. If Chippering can't get Lorna Sue back, at least he can wreak havoc with her new marriage. (How about some strategically placed lingerie in the tycoon's "ostentatiously upscale Mercedes"?) He also has plans for Lorna Sue's brother, Herbie, with whom she has always had an unnaturally close relationship.
Love. His ex-wife may have disapproved, but is Chippering's fondness for women--especially the nubile coeds who attend his classes--really so wrong? And now love finds a new Mrs. Robert Kooshof, the attractive, demanding, and, of course, already married woman who may at last satisfy Chippering's longing for intimacy.

Comment: This will be a short comment, for I have DNF'd this book.

I had it in the pile for years, I got this Portuguese edition at a book fair, and if I remember well, I got it because it was at a discount, and the blurb made me think the protagonist would go on a self discovery path and on the way he would find love again, after his divorce.

Well, I've managed to read until page 157 of my 403 pages edition. I actually liked the writing, I could see the author is very clever and smart in his commentary, although he does write in that style that seems someone is writing as randomly as thoughts come one's mind and while in a conversation this can be easier to follow (if not still rather annoying), on paper I don't think the effect is the same, and things jumped from thing to thing without much coherence.

Despite liking some of the things here and there, I started to become more and more frustrated by how repetitive everything was. The protagonist is a teacher of linguists and while at first this interest in specific words and how he linked them to his personal life was cute, but after the first two or three times this happened, I was already tired of the same thing. It was also incredibly annoying to have the protagonist describing himself in the way he did. I wondered if the goal was to show how sarcastic he was, but apparently he did consider himself to be that special.

Then, to make things even more disappointing, he loved his wife but they got a divorce and he can't get over it. I can't be certain if he wasn't such a devoted faithful husband either, but if he really was the title's tomcat, I lost interest about that as well. Plus, I didn't find what I read to be funny, even though comedy seems to be a possible way to describe this book for some readers.

Since I have more things to read and, to be honest, this story stopped being appealing, with also the probable repetitiveness of what would come, I decided to not finish.
Grade: DNF


  1. Ugh, it does sound like a complete fail. And with life being short, and the TBR piles and shelves and mountains being so long and tall and never ending...yeah, DNF seems about right.

    1. Yes, true. Again, one of the old questions... had I read it back when I got it, would I have graded it better?