TOMMY’S TALE by Alan Cumming

TOMMY’S TALE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Frothy first novel by the Scottish stage and film actor heretofore best known for his Tony Award–winning role in the recent revival of Cabaret.

The story is a first-person confession, of sorts, in which the eponymous Tommy, a late-twentysomething who vacillates between avoiding adulthood and desiring fatherhood, chats amiably with the reader about his versatile (i.e., bisexual) love life, rules for avoiding the sin of being a bore, and relationships—with jaded roommates Sadie and Bobby, his older boyfriend Charlie, and the latter’s owlish, charming eight-year-old son Finn. Cumming’s plot, such as it is, follows Tommy through a succession of one-night stands, even more orgiastic excesses during a trip to New York City with the photographer who employs and indulges him, a reunion with his gorgeous former girlfriend India, and a muted acceptance of the only lifestyle he’s really suited, and inclined, to lead. The narrative is occasionally interrupted by interpolated “fairy tales” that underscore Tommy’s experiences and noodlings with suffocating banalities (e.g., “There is so much joy out there to be had, and most people are bereft of it because they are simply scared of letting it in”). There are also numerous digressions on such topics as partying etiquette, bathroom décor, the mechanics of male urination, and Tommy’s drug of choice: Ecstasy, the subject of repeated paeans to its pleasures and benefits. A few funny bits do crop up: notably, some ingeniously bitchy remarks about India’s former German boyfriend Kurt, and the experience of “being given a lecture on the evils of drug taking by a furious woman wearing a crucifix, in the disabled toilet of Planet Hollywood.” But such high points, so to speak, aren’t enough to redeem Tommy’s Tale from its larky, slapdash inconsequence.

Alan Cumming is a marvelous actor.

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-039444-7
Page count: 272pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2002