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Tomcat In Love

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  2,734 Ratings  ·  243 Reviews
In a tour de force of black comedy, award-winning novelist Tim O'Brien explores the battle of the sexes and creates a savage, startlingly inventive tale with a memorably maddening hero, a modern-day Don Juan who embodies the desires and bewilderment of men everywhere. Pompous, vain, shallow, inconsiderate, untrustworthy, fickle... linguistics professor Thomas 'Tomcat' Chip ...more
Published April 1st 2000 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1998)
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Cow Country by Adrian Jones PearsonMoo by Jane SmileyTomcat In Love by Tim O'BrienLucky Jim by Kingsley AmisBlue Angel by Francine Prose
Academic Follies
3rd out of 13 books — 9 voters
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingA Fable by William FaulknerExit to Eden by Anne RiceAnother Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
When Good Authors Go Bad
5th out of 29 books — 18 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Larry Bassett
Sep 07, 2014 Larry Bassett rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Tomcat in Love A Novel
Tim O Brien

This is a test! There is no right answer.
He had the appearance, if I may say so, of an ostrich attempting to swallow a toaster.

If you find that funny, you will love Tomcat in Love. If you think otherwise, you may find the book less pleasing in direct proportion to the depths of your otherwise.

Sometimes I try to imagine what a book might be like if it was made into a movie. Would I like the movie? Do I like raunchy PG-13 movies? Did I like Cheech & Chong? En
Jun 16, 2007 Brendan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
On page 172, it becomes crystal clear that Thomas H. Chippering, the protagonist of Tim O’Brien’s darkly outrageous new novel, Tomcat in Love, is presidential not only in his appearance but in his actions, as well. More on that in a moment.

First, it helps to remember something philosopher-writer William Gass once wrote about the words that are his stock and trade: “When a character looks out through a window, or occasionally peeks in through one, it is the word ‘window’ he is really looking thro
I'll admit it -- I loved the first half of this book, and progressively lost interest in the narrator's voice. After finishing May We Be Forgiven, I realize there are dozens of similarities between these two, and Homes' novel got me where I wanted much faster. I'm sure there's a thesis or at least a really good book review in comparing these two titles, but I'll let someone else do it. I love that O'Brien took such a risk in writing in a tone so different from what we usually expect from him, bu ...more
Jun 23, 2007 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is friends with potentially crazy people
I am not very discerning when it comes to my love for this book. Anything that involves pretentious know-it-alls, Jesus complexes, and manic revenge vacations basically has me at its very first loquacious and inverted explanation.

In this way, I almost appreciate it more than The Things They Carried because it is so desperately and unapologetically frail. It doesn't have the force of O'Brien's other works, but rather pulls the smaller train wrecks of neuroses out of the ordinary. The narrator is
Aug 29, 2007 Jae rated it liked it
Tomcat in Love is what A Confederacy of Dunces would have been if Tom Robbins had written it.

While discusing the Timothy Cavendish sections of Cloud Atlas my friend Todd told me I'd like this book and loaned it to me. It is zany, at times hilarious, and always outrageous. But it lacked a little something. Plausibility, maybe. Maybe not. At times I could believe that a dorky and delusional college professor (Thomas H. Chippering) plotting revenge against his ex-wife for leaving him could think th
May 28, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O'Brien always seems to dig into these nooks and crannies of the psyche that go unexplored by most authors. Here, the awful, awful titular character dwells on the unique characteristics words take on when coupled with experience. It's unnerving in a way that I'm having trouble describing (just like some parts of The Lake of the Woods chilled me in some fundamental way that I still can't unpack, years after reading it).

Anyway, this is a really well-written book, and as loathsome as Chippering is
Dec 29, 2008 Janet rated it really liked it
Well, I loved it! The main character, Thomas Chippering, is a linguistics professor and the Tomcat from the title. He is such an offensive, buffoon of a man - you can't decide whether to hate him or invite him over for a glorious day of conversation. Loved the way the story was told - there are two sides to every story! And generally it's not the way that Thomas C wants you to believe.
May 20, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
This dark comedy was a fresh and different addition to my reading list and for 50 cents at the library book sale - it was a great bargain as well! In many (good) ways this novel reminded me of Election by Tom Perrotta or Straight Man by Richard Russo. Basically a middle-aged man losing his grip on reality, and seeking revenge against those who wronged him. O'Brien's story-telling is extremely funny and unravels in a way is both predictable in its ever increasing craziness but also unpredictable ...more
Another oblivious, delusional crotch-led loser stumble-raving through an otherwise interesting story. Funny and too pathetic.
Donna LaValley
Jun 27, 2013 Donna LaValley rated it it was ok
Having heard good things about this author but not wanting to read his devastating and sad books about Viet Nam (friends of mine died or suffered there), I thought this "light-hearted" book of humor, romance, and revenge would be a good choice. Not.

The main character is a literature professor, and proud of his august tenure, reputation, and erudition. So then, how could he be so stupid? He believes every female finds him irresistible and begins perusing him after 2 nanoseconds, and shortly there
Sep 13, 2015 Alison rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
I picked this up on Friday intending to read 50 pages or so and I wound up reading well over half the book in one sitting. It was thoroughly enjoyable. A narrator you love to hate, dark humor, lots of great wordplay. I met Tim O'Brien in a writing class in college, but I hadn't read too much of him because most of his stuff is centered around war, which is not favorite topic of interest. But I do believe after this book I may have to give some of his others a shot.
Feb 17, 2010 Carly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here is the story of a man who literally has to fight off the women. All of the women in his life are seriously and instantly attracted to him. ...Or at least that's how Tom sees it.

To the rest of us, Tom is a mysogenistic narcissist--and has been for years.

When his wife leaves him to marry a man whom he won't even name, but simply calls "tycoon"...Tom's grip of reality starts to falter. From public spankings, black mail, live crying fits/suicide threats on television to his old Vietnam 'buddi
Oct 29, 2009 Jean rated it really liked it
Tim O'Brien's non-The-Things-They-Carried novels (the ones I've read, anyway, and I've read three) all astonish me with their twists, the blend of realism and surrealism--the believability of apparently half-insane characters. I truly dug it when, a few chapters in, I realized that Thomas Chippering, narrator, was a mold-breaking blowhard, not just a slightly pompous guy with a broken heart. The depiction of Lorna Sue, self-mutilating ex-wife, is handy, too. There are some pretty uncomfortable m ...more
Leah Paul
Apr 03, 2016 Leah Paul rated it it was amazing
O'Brien is amazing.
MyACPL Athens County Public Libraries
from James:

I can't believe I read the whole thing. I'm usually one to give up on books I'm not enjoying, but this was a train wreck; I couldn't look away. By that I don't mean the writing, I mean the main character, Tom. As always, O'Brien leads the reader along with half truths until the end, but this time I just felt manipulated.

Here are two passages that sum up the book:

-from page 176: Even in the most banal circumstances, human love is a subtle and enigmatic phenomenon, almost beyond analysi
Jan 18, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it
Tim O'Brien has created a masterpiece of a comic protagonist in his character Thomas Chippering. The brilliance of "Tomcat in Love" is that it can so easily be misread by the inattentive reader. I think O'Brien wanted it that way.
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 my
Michael Brockley
Jun 16, 2014 Michael Brockley rated it it was amazing
Flirt bird. Love ledger. Tomcat. Thomas H. Chippering, the tomcat of Tim O'Brien's hilarious TOMCAT IN LOVE is a philanderer, the man among men in every woman's eyes in his opinion, in his tone deaf flirtation with the women he encounters as he simultaneously attempts to wreak havoc upon his ex, Lorna Sue, her brother and the new beau/husband, a nameless Tampa tycoon. Tom is an English professor at a small Midwestern college where he has become famous for his lechery. As he builds his schemes fo ...more
I am going to have trouble writing this review because, at times I found myself saying, out loud, "Brilliant!" Others? I would compare Tomcat in Love - maybe - to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. They are both narrated by quirky protagonists with what can be best described as neurosis. The issue with O'Brien's narrator is he is wildly unreliable (as are O'Brien's narrators overall), and by the end, I felt a bit cheated. There's a pretty significant shift in the plot t ...more
Jan 02, 2008 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers
Shelves: fiction
Austensibly, this is O'Brien's book that "isn't about Vietnam." But his main character still manages to be vet. Still, it is very different from O'Brien's other books, and is my favorite. An excellent book for anyone who has ever dated/married someone who is crazy. (And I mean genuinely mentally ill, not like "that bitch is crazy" crazy.)
Dec 11, 2014 Tiffany rated it liked it
First off... I think I've read this book before. If not this one, one very similar to it. As I was reading it (and steadily loathing the main character more and more), I felt like I had experienced some of this before. Something was triggering a memory for me. You know, that whole 'Great American Novel" thing.
Then, let's talk about unloveable main characters. I did not love Thomas H. Chippering. I did not feel any sympathy, or empathy otherwise. I felt nothing for him but sheer annoyance. H
Nov 23, 2013 Carol rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Wow, I've had several books lately that I could not finish, and now another one. This writing was so scatter shot that I just couldn't get my mind into it. All reviews said it was so-o-o funny and I didn't find this to be the case at all. Anyway, I gave up.
May 18, 2012 Rob rated it really liked it
First book I read by O'Brien. Some parts are actualy very funny and obsessive. The war flashbacks are very good.
Eric Susak
Aug 16, 2014 Eric Susak rated it it was ok
This book would probably have been insightful and interesting in the third person. Instead, it is 342 pages of a pretentious, delusional idiot. (Granted, Thomas has a philosophical understanding of the power of words, but that is all he considers with any rationality.) After reading the book, I feel as though my vocabulary and syntax has been tarnished with faux-intellectual vernacular. Although, I must give O'Brien credit for pulling it off so well.

Part of my disappointment with this book is du
Aug 20, 2014 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
"All I could feel, though, was a hollowed-out version of the old love. In the end, I thought, that's what betrayal does. It sucks away the passion. The delight, too, and the hope, and the faith in your own future."

"(Commitment--surely among the most suspect words in our our language. After an act of betrayal, can one truthfully say, in the past tense, "Well, I *was* committed," and if so, what fuzzy function does the word serve in our intricate, ongoing web of promises and expectations? If commi
Jun 02, 2014 Alana rated it really liked it
A very funny book with an incorrigible main character. Thomas Chippering is the worst, grossest lech with a very peculiar code of honor. The book opens as he is sifting through the memories of his marriage to his life-long sweetheart, Lorna Sue, and his book follows his attempt(s) at getting his revenge. The book is a virtual love letter to the English language, using Chippering's position as a professor to provide a lovely undercurrent of what words really mean when we make them a part of our l ...more
Theresa Malloy
Aug 18, 2016 Theresa Malloy rated it really liked it
Shelves: minnesota-reads
This book came to me through a co-worker. It follows a middle-aged divorced professor at the University of Minnesota who is trying to get over his ex-wife. The problem is he is still madly in love with Lorna Sue who is newly married to a "tycoon" in Florida. Our protagonist goes out of his way to seek revenge and win back a love. The tale of mishaps and misconception was engaging and funny. O'Brien really goes into the mind of Thomas Chippering, an unreliable narrator with misplaced passion at b ...more
Jun 08, 2016 Dennis rated it liked it
This was a roller coaster comedy with many more downs than ups. It didn't build to a sensational finish but just seemed to run out of steam at the end. And then everyone got off, went their separate ways and all was quickly forgotten. It's difficult to take an unlikeable schmuck of a character, put up with all of his pretensions and smile at his many humiliations when he's mostly oblivious to them and remains undeterred in his obsessions. In other words, you'd like him to get it and then shut up ...more
Aug 22, 2016 Chris rated it it was ok
A bitter, comic novel about betrayal, loss and revenge told by a highly unreliable narrator who suffers from childhood and Vietnam war traumas. Because the narrator is articulate yet clueless, there are passages that made me laugh really hard. Great wordplay. As Tom plots revenge for perceived slights, others wreak their own revenge for his thoroughly rotten behavior. However, I got tired of poor Tomcat after a while. I could not tell at the end if he was redeemed or doomed, or (frankly) what th ...more
Sep 15, 2011 Sandra rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who have read O'Brien and people who haven't read O'Brien
This is the first of O'Brien's works that I've read. To be honest, I was planning to read "The Things They Carried," but I found "Tomcat in Love" in a bookstore first.

I understand this book differs from his others because of the humor. In some ways, Thomas reminded me of Ignatius in "Confederacy of Dunces." Both have hidden writings, both have misadventures and both are selfish, deluded, tragic and comic. There the similiarity ends though.

As I read, there was no way of knowing throughout the bo
All of the reviews quoted on the cover of Tomcat in Love call it a "comic novel," or "wildly funny," or "laugh-out-loud funny." I closed the book and looked at those reviews multiple times during my reading. The main character is sort of a hapless guy. He's a professor of linguistics in Minnesota, a Vietnam veteran, a man who is irresistible to women (don't believe that? Just ask him, he'll tell you) - and yet, things seem to always turn out wrong for him. He married his childhood sweetheart, Lo ...more
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Tim O'Brien matriculated at Macalester College. Graduation in 1968 found him with a BA in political science and a draft notice.

O'Brien was against the war but reported for service and was sent to Vietnam with what has been called the "unlucky" Americal division due to its involvement in the My Lai massacre in 1968, an event which figures prominently in In the Lake of the Woods. He was assigned to
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“The world shrieks and sinks talons into our hearts. This we call memory.” 37 likes
“Words, too, have genuine substance -- mass and weight and specific gravity.” 35 likes
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