Saturday, August 31, 2013

Review of: Tommy's Tale by Alan Cumming - 5 Stars




Let me get this out of the way: I freakin’ adore Alan Cumming.  He’s adorable and talented (Julie Taymor’s Titus, anyone?) and adorable and cheeky.  Oh yes, cheeky!  (Oopsie-daisy Homophobe?) I think it was on CBS Sunday Morning last year that he said something to the effect of, “I’m naughty, but there’s substance behind my naughtiness.”  Well, for a queer man blessed with that surname, how can there not be?

Ok, about the book.




Oh damn, he can write too?  Well, fuck.

Tommy’s Tale is a sort of rambling, “confessional”/conversational sort of thing you’d expect to have been transcribed by a therapist in (not-so) summary notes.  Therapy.  Maybe not a bad idea for our Tomser, really.  Just a few more outside, incidental factoids (and the odd Tralfamadorian) thrown in and I’d swear I was reading Vonnegut (it’s that good). 

Tommy is, or should be, an anti-hero.  He’s a coked (and e’d and, later, k’d) up, irresponsible twat-face who can’t see the forest for the trees.  I want to smack him silly.  Here he is with a great “sort-of” boyfriend with whom he has a great time and who has a kid that he totally adores.  Does he appreciate it?  Of course not.  Tommy is antsy about wanting to still be able to fuck anything that doesn’t move quick enough.  And he’s turning 30.  Ok, so maybe that’s relatable. 

But then Tomser has this grand revelation (probably drug-fuelled… ironically, it wasn’t the use of drugs that annoyed me, but the fact that he never eats when he’s on a toot – that’s just not healthy!)  Anyway, he realizes that he wants a kid, he wants to be a father (yeah, in the midst of all that druggery?)  Well, duh, Tommy!  How about your “sort-of” boyfriend’s son?  Hello!

It must be the drugs (and third decade crisis) that makes Tommy think he’s not a “second dad” already.  Or some kind of biological drive to pass on his very own DNA that was clearly left out of my welcome package.  Whatever. 

Well, all of it is a lot of Tommy’s snorting-screwing-fainting routine with the occasional proper think insinuating itself between the crashes and successive highs.  But for all that, I really kept rooting for him.  He’s got a good heart and a good support system and I just kept wanting to see him realize that and accept himself enough to let his friends in and stop being a self-destructive wanker.  Tommy is a very real character, which is an awesome thing to pull off as a writer and should really make the reader a little uncertain and uncomfortable (like real people do). 

I’ll even forgive that time jump toward the end and a few other clich├ęs because (bless him!) he knows he’s doing it and has a laugh with it.  But not in that bloody annoying neo-lit way that the author thinks is really cool and hip and trendy and rule-breaking, yeah!  (Not.)  He knows what he’s doing.  Wow….


The one thing I’d have liked to see was a little more of Tommy and Charlie’s path down the road (that’s the “sort-of” boyfriend).  But I didn’t feel like it was lacking without and it might have even been a little too neat and tidy, wrapped-up-in-a-bow for Tommy.  Stet.


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