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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
"In one sense, Tomcat in Love represents a literary departure for me. In a more important sense, however, every book is a departure: new characters, new story, new structure, new rules, new narrative voices, new ways of looking at material that matters to me," O'Brien maintains. "Though I am known as a 'Vietnam writer' - whatever that may be - I have always pegged myself more as a 'love writer,' and in that regard Tomcat in Love is no departure at all. I am still circling, after nearly thirty years, the same old obsession: how far we will go to win love, to keep love, to love ourselves." —Tim O'brien
Hailed as "the best American writer of his generation" (San Francisco Examiner), Tim O'Brien is best known for works of fiction grounded in his experience of the Vietnam War. With the publication of his last novel, In the Lake of the Woods, O'Brien announced his intention to stop writing fiction "for the foreseeable future."
Now, four years later, we invite you to join us in welcoming Tim O'Brien in his return. Meet us in the auditorium to chat about his new novel, tracing one man's misguided, convoluted, relentless quest to reclaim the love of his life - or, perhaps, to find a new love - in Tomcat in Love.
"There can be little on this earth more fundamentally satisfying than a piece of intelligently conceived, impeccably executed vengeance," reflects O'Brien's ever-conniving yet hapless hero and narrator, Thomas H. Chippering, Professor of Linguistics.
Egotistical, verbose, meticulous (hepainstakinglyincludes footnotes in his own narrative), and self-described as "something over forty-nine years of age" with "height and craggy features reminiscent of our sixteenth president," Chippering has been prone to late-night weeping since the recent end of a twenty-year marriage to Lorna Sue, the doe-eyed, raven-haired, pouty-lipped beauty he has adored since the age of seven. Two obstacles stand in the way of their reunion: Lorna Sue's new husband (a hirsute tycoon from Tampa whose name Chippering refuses to utter) and her slavishly devoted, eerily omnipresent brother, Chippering's childhood chum Herbie. Of course, Chippering staunchly denies that his fondness for women - especially his young students at the University of Minnesota - and his fine art of equivocation are in any way responsible for his present state of desperation.
Faith. Roses. Pontiac. Virtue. These words haunt the narrator, as pivotal events in the life of the narrator and Lorna Sue have charged them with emotion. Increasingly, Chippering hungers for revenge, and his thoughts turn to Tampa, where the focus of his obsession now lives, content and oblivious, with her wealthy husband (and her faithful brother nearby). But before heading south to launch his attack, Chippering makes a fateful stop in Owago, Minnesota - the Rock Cornish Hen Capital of the World - to visit his boyhood home. Crumpled and sobbing in his former backyard, he meets the properties current owner, Mrs. Robert Kooshof - a tall, buxom, big-hearted, no-nonsense blonde also reeling from a spouse's betrayal, who soon becomes Chippering's reluctant accomplice, and ultimately, his savior.
In an epic struggle taking him from Minnesota to Florida and back, Chippering hatches devious plots to shatter Lorna Sue's connubial bliss; flirts shamelessly with every woman he meets; suffers public humiliation and the ruin of his career; and risks a fiery death. A complex, despicable and at the same time entirely loveable character, Chippering ultimately comes to grips with the truth - about Lorna Sue, about Herbie, about his own imperious, commitment-phobic self, and ultimately finds salvation in what makes life truly worth living. Wildly funny and surprisingly moving, Tomcat in Love is a vivid, ingenious, unforgettable tale of lust, compulsion, and disillusionment from one of today's most original and gifted writers.