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June 2, 2009 | by  | in Books | [ssba]


Tom by Mark Pirie is a “verse novel” in 70 parts. All roughly a page long and, with two exceptions, ‘written’ by the lead character Tom Grant. Tom is a first year English student at Victoria University, sometime in the recent past when Generation X were in tertiary education and the Southern Cross was called Zebos.

Tom is a poet, or wants to be one, and it is often hard to tell if the laziness of a lot of the material is either the real author’s fault or simply an expression of listlessness that pervades the character of Tom. He sees the world as series of distractions from his forthcoming life as a poet and Pirie has done a very workable job of expressing the smug lack of self-knowledge that makes almost every first year think they are the smartest guy in the room.

Pirie is clearly very attached to exploring and examining the times and life of Generation X and it feels hard at times to share his interest, especially considering how late to that particular game Tom is and how seemingly superficial a lot of his observations are. However, I could very easily see readers already enamoured with Gen Xers getting a good chuckle out of Tom.

The most interesting parts of Tom are the two segments not written by Tom himself. The first being an outside introduction to the character and the book, the second being Kate, Tom’s occasional girlfriend, hilariously rebutting his love poems. “Hey, why do you always write to me/In words of narcissistic muck/When all you really want to do/is ask me for a f..k?” One cannot help but feel that Tom would have been a stronger work had we been not so stuck in the eponymous hero’s head and words.

However, Tom is a very quick read and nice way to while a way a free hour, but don’t really expect much more out of it than that.


About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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