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Be careful what you wish for

Tomas, by James Palumbo, tick. Bloody hell.  That’s was the weirdest book I have ever read in my life.  TOMAS_large

Where do I even start?  This is a book on modern society which includes (and this is not an exhaustive list): aliens, animals as people, sexual humilation involving pigs, resurrection, extreme reality TV, women who carry their breasts on carts, penis warriors and Napoleon.  It also includes some of the weirdest images (even on Kindle) which makes for interesting train reading. 

At the start, you think some of these things are metaphors, but you quickly learn that Tomas simply isn’t that deep.

Now anyone who knows me would expect me to be put off by the above.  But in reality, that was the most interesting thing about this novel.  Otherwise it was just endless moralising, shoved down your throat, at a repetitive, almost rhythmic, pace.  And the moralising itself wasn’t massively insightful: banks = bad, modern society = obsessed with money and looks, bigger = better = abhorent.  In sum. So in a way, the penis warriors were really a welcome distraction.

And just so you don’t think I am being whiney, here are a few choice examples:

“‘ Look at me’, whoops Tomas, ‘I’m having such fun.  I’m spraying champagne.  I’m dancing.  I’m cool, swaying my hips and exposing  myself.  I’m alive with pleasure’.”

“The bride turns to her groom to speak the sacred words.  To her horror, he is playing with his Blackberry.  She spins around, seeking consolation from the congregation, but all the men have turned into hedges, playing Blackberrys with their leafy hands.”

“‘The first question is why did you become a banker?’ Hank catches his breath. ‘Money’, he gasps.  ‘It’s an obsession.  We see magazine covers – CEOs and billionaires – and we want to be like them.  To be a banker.  It’s about status and wealth.  There’s no thought beyond that.'”

The style of this novel is also weird.  It consists of snippets of stories, which are sort of linear, but sometimes seem to miss sections, as if you are supposed to guess what was missing.  This feeling is probably exacerabted in the Kindle edition, which seems to have extra line spaces between paragraphs all over the place.

Now maybe this is all satire within satire.  Or maybe the author was high (not unlikely, as the owner of Ministry of Sound) and the meaning is just lost on me.  I accept that this may be possible.  But I am mostly just glad this novel was short.  And is over.


About bloggingthelonglist

An avid reader, but I tend to stick to what I know I am comfortable with. Trying to break out of the comfort zone...

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