Summary and book reviews of Tomcat In Love by Tim O'Brien

Tomcat In Love

By Tim O'Brien

Tomcat In Love
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Sep 1998,
    347 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 1999,
    342 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A wildly funny, brilliantly inventive novel about a man torn between two obsessions: the desperate need to win back his former wife and a craving to test his erotic charms on every woman he meets.

He is 6'6" tall, a cross between Ichabod Crane and Abe Lincoln. He is a professor of linguistics, bewitched by language, deluded about his ability to win the hearts of women with his erudition and physical appeal. He is Thomas H. Chippering, a.k.a. Tomcat, a masterly addition to the pantheon of unforgettable characters in American fiction.

And in his private dictionary of love, three entries stand out.

Tampa. Just the word makes Tom Chippering's blood curdle. That's where his ex-wife, the faithless Lorna Sue, now lives with a suntanned tycoon whose name Chippering refuses to utter.

Revenge. If Chippering can't get Lorna Sue back, at least he can wreak havoc with her new marriage. (How about some strategically placed lingerie in the tycoon's "ostentatiously upscale Mercedes"?) He also has plans for Lorna Sue's brother, Herbie, with whom she has always had an unnaturally close relationship.

Love. His ex-wife may have disapproved, but is Chippering's fondness for women--especially the nubile coeds who attend his classes--really so wrong? And now love finds a new form: Mrs. Robert Kooshof, the attractive, demanding, and, of course, already married woman who may at last satisfy Chippering's longing for intimacy.

Tim O'Brien--acclaimed for his fiction about the Vietnam War--has now taken on the battle between the sexes with astonishing results. By turns hilarious, outrageous, romantic, and deeply moving, Tomcat in Love gives us a blundering, modern-day Don Juan who embodies the desires and bewilderments of men everywhere.

Faith

I begin with the ridiculous, in June 1952, middle-century Minnesota, on that silvery-hot morning when Herbie Zylstra and I nailed two plywood boards together and called it an airplane. "What we need," said Herbie, "is an engine."

The word engine--its meanings beyond mere meaning--began to open up for me. I went into the house and found my father.

"I'll need an engine," I told him.

"Engine?" he said.

"For an airplane." My father thought about it. "Makes sense," he said. "One airplane engine, coming up."

"When?"

"Soon enough," said my father. "Pronto."

Was this a promise?

Was this duplicity?

Herbie and I waited all summer. We painted our airplane green. We cleared a runway in the backyard, moving the big white birdbath, digging up two of my mother's rhododendrons. We eyed our plane. "What if it crashes?" I said.

Herbie made a scoffing noise. "Parachutes," he said. (A couple of his front teeth were missing, which caused bubbles to form when he laughed at me.) ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews
Globe and Mail - Matt Cohen

Tomcat in Love is well -- sometimes very well -- written. Its plot is carefully worked out and becomes more compelling as the novel proceeds. The characters are only mildly believable, but how believable were the characters in Lolita, another book about a verbally gifted romantic?....Well-written and almost always amusing, Tomcat in Love is an entertaining book from a terrific writer whose real strengths appear to lie elsewhere.

Publishers Weekly

Although O'Brien is on interesting ground laying out Chippering's childhood crush on Lorna Sue in 1950s Minnesota, the book careens toward an unconvincing portrait of madness that is irritatingly flippant and shrill.

The Boston Sunday Globe

Tim O'Brien knows cold the spiraling insularity of obsession. . . . Thomas Chippering . . . is wickedly realized. The agility and intelligence that created this pathos-ridden romantic make one marvel at Tim O'Brien's gifts.

Washington Post David Nicholson

Tomcat in Love is a wonderful novel, laugh-out-loud funny, one of the best books I've come across in years. My advice...is that you waste no more time on this review. Put down the paper. Go out and find a copy of Tomcat in Love. Now.

Reader Reviews
Carlos Williamson


Pretty well-done. But O'Brien 's story telling sometimes got circulated.
Some part was irritating for me.

k@

Is it just me ... or does he, being Tim O'Brien, seem to know the reader, oh-too-well?
Or could it be Timothy Chippering?


<< Forever no longer means forever. Forever means for a while. Forevermeans untill a pretty young redhead comes along. And so you...   Read More

shecat

I think this is an awesome book for anyone to read. Very hilarious and very touching at the same time. This book is truly a summer reading book, where you can just sit back and read. The plot is very good, and not very predictable. This book ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Tomcat In Love, try these:

  • Bump and Run jacket

    Bump and Run

    by Mike Lupica

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    If you've ever wondered what you would do if you owned a football team ...well, Lupica's your guy. This is a delight from beginning to end.. smart, funny, and tough.

  • Metro Girl jacket

    Metro Girl

    by Janet Evanovich

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Buckle your seat belts and move into the fast lane with Metro Girl, a thrilling, high-octane misadventure with high stakes, hot nights, cold-blooded murder, sunken treasure, a woman with a chassis built for speed.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.