Larry Bassett's Reviews > Tomcat in Love

Tomcat in Love by Tim O'Brien
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Sep 07, 14

bookshelves: fiction
Read from July 30, 2011 to September 07, 2014

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? Enough said.

What do others think? On the front cover of the book is this quote:
Tomcat in Love is a wonderful novel, laugh-out-loud funny, one of the best books I’ve come across in years…-- Washington Post

With the help of Google, I find the actual 1998 review. And, in fact, the quote is accurate. But, as it has been said elsewhere: “…no accounting for taste…” and “… everyone has a right to their own opinion…” I would add, “Do not believe reviewer David Nicholson.”

There are 1254 ratings on GR that yield a less than scintillating 3.32 average. Now, I can relate to that. A bit high, I think, but no accounting for taste. About the same number give it two stars as give it a five. Put me in the two column. [Three years later there are more ratings, 2369, but still only a 3.38 average. I am decreasing my own rating to one star since I figure that is what a book ought to get if you are unable to get beyond halfway after two tries.]

In my era the term Tomcat was associated with the male cat on the prowl. Can a cat exhibit promiscuous activity? Amoral sex is common in Tomcat in Love. Not lyrical enough to be erotic, not graphic enough to be pornographic and not funny enough to be ribald or farcical. The shortest self-description by Tom: “I was no simple Lothario; I was complicated.” A longer description by a woman: “If you ask my opinion, you’re a sick, dangerous, compulsive skirt chaser. And a sneak. And a liar.”

The book started out with humor. I was believing its own book cover raves about itself. I like words and thought some of the “linguistic” aspects were clever. But then I just got tired of it. My recommendation: read Tim O Brien’s The Things They Carried and In the Lake of the Woods.
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Reading Progress

07/30 page 15
4.0% "If you want to read Tim O'Brien, you read The Things They Carried. GR ratings for Tomcat in Love are only average. Stay tuned."
07/30 page 56
16.0% "I love a book with chapters of a manageable size. This book has'em."
07/30 page 78
23.0% "Sorry to break in again but this book reminds me of Still Live with Woodpecker. But I must have read that book 40 years ago and can't remember what it is all about."
09/06 marked as: currently-reading
09/07 page 142
41.0% "This might well be exactly the page I reached when I gave up the last time. I am going to take this book to the Free Library across the street and give someone else a chance at these pages! I have a copy of July, July by O'Brien on my TBR shelf that I now must try out."
09/07 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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Larry Bassett I got halfway through this book and felt an urgency to read something else. I will come back to it one day. I am giving it two stars and a look at my experience in a partial review.


Larry Bassett Three and one-half years later I decide to try this book again. I start again on page one and about half way through it is deja vu. Can I finish it on the second try? I am not optimistic.


Larry Bassett Larry wrote: "Can I finish it on the second try?"

No! If you want it, it's in the Free Library box at the Depot Grille in downtown Lynchburg, VA.


message 4: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette Don't feel bad about dumping, I do it all time. It's merciful.


Larry Bassett Jeanette wrote: "Don't feel bad about dumping, I do it all time. It's merciful."

I need the skill badly. My dilemma is "Do I have the guts to give a book one or two stars when others are raving?" Clearly, low staring is not that common here. For many it seems that even two stars is seen as "bad" rather than "OK". Merciful? Thanks for putting that word out there, Jeanette.


message 6: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette You nailed my prime and only peeve with this wonderful site. The books are most usually rated extremely high for what they deserve by the majority of members. I have an abandoned shelf and some works on that shelf have no rating at all. Just think what guts I need as I can't stand Proust or Dickens! LOL!


Larry Bassett Jeanette wrote: "I have an abandoned shelf..."

I guess I just need to be a bit more patient or open minded with my "temporarily set aside" shelf!


message 8: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette You are patient and open minded. Some deserve to be dumped and belong in giveaway pile. There are too many books to enjoy and so little time.


message 9: by Mary (new)

Mary Great review, Larry. I've held back on reading O'Brien's lesser revered works.


message 10: by Larry (new) - rated it 1 star

Larry Bassett Mary wrote: "Great review, Larry. I've held back on reading O'Brien's lesser revered works."

I gave five stars to the two O'Brien books I noted at the end of the review. I have also read a couple more of his books (three stars) so have had mixed experiences. Not being a quitter, I just started July, July earlier today!


message 11: by Mary (new)

Mary Good luck! I've heard that 'Going After Cacciato' is also supposed to be very good.


message 12: by Josh (new)

Josh Bratton Mary wrote: "Good luck! I've heard that 'Going After Cacciato' is also supposed to be very good."

I've heard the same. I shall try that one soon enough.


message 13: by Larry (new) - rated it 1 star

Larry Bassett I think Going After Cacciato was his first book and garnered some awards. I didn't rate it as highly as others: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 14: by Cathy (new)

Cathy DuPont Larry...you didn't like this one so you're going to read another TB book? If I read an author I don't like, I'm less likely to give him/her a second chance. I'm hard, I know and I've been told that. Not saying you're easy, I'm just hard.

Enjoyed your review, my friend. And no, I didn't think that ostrich/toaster joke(?) was funny.


message 15: by Jeanette (new)

Jeanette Cathy, I'm similar. Second chances possibly if it is decades later and I forgot the author's name/first book experience. And I quit about 2 out of 10 books I start since retiring. Time is precious.


message 16: by Larry (new) - rated it 1 star

Larry Bassett Cathy, when I am buying used books online I sometimes get several by the same author and I do also have the tendency to think "S/he must be better than that!" So I had July, July sitting on my shelf and I figured "What the hell!" And, of course, now I know I am going to stop reading this next book right away if it is not good! Rationalization reigns supreme and I am known for going against the flow.


message 17: by Cathy (new)

Cathy DuPont Jeanette wrote: "Cathy, I'm similar. Second chances possibly if it is decades later and I forgot the author's name/first book experience. And I quit about 2 out of 10 books I start since retiring. Time is precious."

Hello there Jeanette: Funny you should say that because when I retired I really increased my reading and began putting books down when they were, in my eyes, bad. Said to myself the same thing you said, "Time is precious." I never did that before I retired.


message 18: by Cathy (new)

Cathy DuPont Hi Larry...wish I had said that, Rationalization reigns supreme and I am known for going against the flow. How nice thinking that someone "must be better than that!" when I would think, "that person sure is a crappy writer!" :D

I think that some of your more positive thinking should rub off on me.


message 19: by Larry (new) - rated it 1 star

Larry Bassett Cathy wrote: "I think that some of your more positive thinking should rub off on me."

There are definitely some moments when I am rereading an old review that I think "You have good writing skills, Larry!" But I also figure that occasional flops happen with a lot of writers, even the ones who get a book or two published.


message 20: by Cathy (last edited Sep 08, 2014 11:15AM) (new)

Cathy DuPont Larry wrote: "Cathy wrote: "I think that some of your more positive thinking should rub off on me."

There are definitely some moments when I am rereading an old review that I think "You have good writing skills..."


Ha...yes, I was right on your positive thinking. I read something I wrote a year ago recently and thought "why did you (me) use that word!"

Of course you're right; I just like it when guys like you take a hit for the team so I'm not wasting my dime and my time. (I like that and might use it again, my dime/time.)


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