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Tomcat in Love

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  2,571 ratings  ·  228 reviews

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 t
Paperback, 342 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Broadway Books (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Larry Bassett
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
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Michael Brockley
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 5 of 5 stars
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.)
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
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.
First book I read by O'Brien. Some parts are actualy very funny and obsessive. The war flashbacks are very good.
Eric Susak
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
"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
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
Sep 15, 2011 Sandralee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
I love Tim O'Brien- his writing, the conflicted views it presents of the world, human interaction, & (more prominently), war.
He usually writes about Men in War, which is why I was surprised when I began to read what is essentially a romance novel; however, this is a romance novel that is uniquely Tim O'Brien- it has all the elements of his characteristic writing style, but with romance.
The main character is loathsome: a pompous, self-involved boorish professor of linguistics who can't brin
May 01, 2010 Melinda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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 h ...more
William Thomas
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
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
UGGGGHHHH. This book made me want to tear my hair out. I did not think this book was funny, and I couldn't find ANY positive qualities in the characters for at least 280 pages. Insulting, sexist babble from the protagonist supplemented by enabling, weak-willed behavior from the female lead. The book jacket promises insights into the human condition, and for these you'll have to wait until the end. This is where the meat of the book is - it took a turn, someone needed to take action. The gripping ...more
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
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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 about Tim O'Brien...
The Things They Carried In the Lake of the Woods Going After Cacciato If I Die in a Combat Zone: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home July, July

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“The world shrieks and sinks talons into our hearts. This we call memory.” 35 likes
“Words, too, have genuine substance -- mass and weight and specific gravity.” 31 likes
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