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Tomcat In Love

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  3,108 ratings  ·  270 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
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1998)
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Average rating 3.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,108 ratings  ·  270 reviews


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Larry Bassett
May 03, 2011 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?
...more
Brendan
Jun 16, 2007 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
...more
Brian
Jan 18, 2016 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
...more
Rachel
Jun 23, 2007 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
Melinda
May 01, 2010 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
...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, ...more
Kathleen
Another oblivious, delusional crotch-led loser stumble-raving through an otherwise interesting story. Funny and too pathetic.
Andrew Miller
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I like the rhyme scheme but my mom would never leave me.
Donna LaValley
Jun 27, 2013 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
...more
Jae
Aug 29, 2007 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
...more
Jason Panella
Jan 18, 2009 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
...more
Janet
Dec 29, 2008 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.
Bob
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
O'Brien has a go at the unreliable narrator and delivers in full Nabokovian splendor. (I note that the unreliable narrator is always someone who reveals himself to be increasingly loathsome as the story progresses, rather than the opposite.) For many of O'Brien's characters, their Vietnam experience has indelibly shaped the entire rest of their lives - in this instance, there is a wartime component to the main character's adult psychosis but it is less clear that is the primary driver.
The theme
...more
Carly
Jan 02, 2010 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
...more
Jessica
May 17, 2015 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 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 11, 2015 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 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
Feb 10, 2013 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 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 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
well told and very funny novel
Jim Leckband
A Lolita for the land of Hubert H. Humphrey. The Tomcat narrator of the novel dons the linguistic cape of Humbert Humbert whilst tomcatting around a small Minnesota academic town with side trips to Tampa and Vietnam (and Fiji). Thomas Chippering also has one other very remarkable similarity to H.H. - he is as unreliable and self-serving in his narration as Humbert was in his. However this tomcat is interested in slightly older women than H.H. - O'Brien wasn't going to go completely down that ...more
Barbara
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I started out finding this book funny, it lured me in. The author skillfully got me to see the world through the eyes of the main character. As time went on, I started to resent him a bit, I mean, I resented the author-because i had already recommended the book to a friend. I had to keep reading, I was getting annoyed with the character. I stopped laughing and saw the reality. At one point i felt manipulated by Tim O'Brien and started to resent him, Oh, not enough to get the Mason Jars out. This ...more
Deborah Lyman
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thomas H. Chippering is a man of many words. Obsessive about the English language, his ex-wife Lorna Sue and ogling, yet not touching young women.

The book was one I normally wouldn't have picked up but once I started it, I couldn't put it down. O'Brien weaves a strange, sometimes wandering story of Tom and his quarkiness.

Kaitlin
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tim O’Brien can write. It’s well written and interesting, but I’m giving it one less than five stars because of the machismo of the main character. To be read in today’s context, it would horrify and upset an extreme feminist because there is a great deal of misogyny in the text.
It reminds us that we’re all pretty sick and twisted.
Maya
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is insanely well written but a challenge to get through because I'm not sure I've ever experienced a more frustrating and infuriating protagonist. I needed breaks from him. But Tim O'Brien is an incredible writer and the book is worth it if only to experience his talent at creating such a thoroughly believable and detestable character.
Fcialone
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
The writing was so good, and at times the book was laugh-out-loud funny. But there was no character that I liked or cared about. The main character was somewhat of a caricature, and the ending didn't ring true given the way the characters had developed over time.
Annette
Nov 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
Hated the main character. Didn’t like or understand any of the others either. Finally gave up after reading about two thirds of it. I do not recommend this book.
Kim
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
I only liked the first half but managed to finish it even though I didn’t feel like it. Boring . . .
Lisa
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The ending made it all worth it. Bravo, Mr. O'Brien, bravo.
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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
“The world shrieks and sinks talons into our hearts. This we call memory.” 41 likes
“Words, too, have genuine substance -- mass and weight and specific gravity.” 37 likes
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