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Tomcat In Love

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  2,760 Ratings  ·  247 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' ...more
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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)
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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
...more
Brendan
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
...more
Rachel
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
...more
Kathrina
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
Jae
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
...more
Jason
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
...more
Janet
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.
Kathleen
Another oblivious, delusional crotch-led loser stumble-raving through an otherwise interesting story. Funny and too pathetic.
Leah Paul
Apr 03, 2016 Leah Paul rated it it was amazing
O'Brien is amazing.
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
...more
Carly
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
...more
Jessica
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
Jean
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 ...more
Alison
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.
Scott
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.)
Carol
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.
Rob
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.
Carolien
Nov 26, 2011 Carolien rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
well told and very funny novel
Brandon Mclaughlin
Oct 21, 2016 Brandon Mclaughlin rated it really liked it
Great book, made me laugh, O Brien is such a womanizer in this book. I love it. I hope on in my life I am half as good as Tim at being a wordsmiths. Such beautiful vocabulary.
Jennifer Wang
Nov 13, 2013 Jennifer Wang rated it it was amazing
Tim O'Brien's miraculous constitution of Tomcat in Love, another New York Times Bestseller, presents a wonderful and surely worth-your-time novelty compilation of a charismatic man troubled by his double obsession. Copyrighted towards Tim O-Brien as of 1998, this book was originally published by Broadway Books. Paperback editions cost about $12.53, whereas hardcover copies are roughly $17.25. Its genre is uncommonly seen: Tomcat in Love is a comic novel and a campus novel. Personally, I see it ...more
Tiffany
Dec 11, 2014 Tiffany rated it liked it
Eh...
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
...more
Kathryn
May 17, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was ok
I fully expected to like this book because I’ve enjoyed a couple of O’Brien’s other works, but I finally gave up on Tomcat in Love around page 200. It is a laborious read, and the two major characters are insufferable.

As the narrator and main character, Thomas Chippering, is clearly pompous, narcissistic, and delusional. Apparently, many readers find him to be wickedly funny as well, but I completely miss the humor. To me, Thomas is little more than an excruciating bore (with pretty creepy tend
...more
Dusty
For a book about betrayal, revenge and madness, Tomcat in Love is surprisingly peppy. As I've come to expect from Tim O'brien, the characters are delicious and vivid, and the prose sparkles, more perhaps than it ever has before. Certain passages, like his narrator's riff on the word "commitment" ring so gloriously they could be performed at church. O'brien can write a mean sentence.

For all its linguistic beauty, however, Tomcat is in content an ugly book, in the same lyrical/horrifying vein as L
...more
Jane
Jan 05, 2011 Jane rated it liked it
I'd actually give this a 3.5 star rating, but that's not a stated option! Tim O'Brien, a Worthington native, came to my mind again recently when I was at a local women's club meeting and a couple of the older women in attendance mentioned they thought he'd been too rash with his personal and community disclosures in some of his books--of course, that did nothing but whet my curiosity, so I had to read more. "Tomcat in Love" is a very different animal from "In the Lake of the Woods," which I'd ...more
Melinda
May 01, 2010 Melinda rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in Viet Nam and comedy
Like all of Mr. O'Brien's works, this book deals with the Viet Nam war, but in a different way... it is a flat out comedy about a loser looking for love. I laughed and laughed at both the situations Thomas Chipperling found himself in but also just at the way O'Brien puts words together. He is an amazing writer.

It's light, but also deadly serious. Whenever someone asks me to recommend a funny book to them, this is at the top of my list. It's very absurd, but also, too damn real. And that's a tr
...more
Ursula
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, ...more
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
...more
Brian
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
...more
William Thomas
Jan 22, 2009 William Thomas rated it really liked it
I balk at giving this novel the full four stars, but i don;t feel that it deserved only three. i think that much of the humor in the book was muddled and mired and played more to an audience of one, the writer himself, than anyone else. most of the time when it was supposed to be comedic it just seemed terribly pathetic (not the writing, but the actual happenings). this book is ridiculously self-indulgent and has none of the poignancy of his other books such as if i die in a combat zone and thin ...more
Katie
Sep 11, 2013 Katie rated it liked it
This novel is about a completely offensive cad of a man who is obsessed with his ex-wife and spends all his time plotting revenge on her. He also spends all his time obsessing over seemingly every woman he encounters, logging each encounter (no matter how trivial or minor) in a "ledger." He's a professor of linguistics, which lends humor to the writing style, as he is constantly examining his and others' use of language in amusing ways, plus he clearly thinks he is smarter than everyone around ...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
...more
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“The world shrieks and sinks talons into our hearts. This we call memory.” 38 likes
“Words, too, have genuine substance -- mass and weight and specific gravity.” 35 likes
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