Tomas by James Palumbo

(7.0/10)

Bloated bankers, Russian roubles, salacious socialites and filthy footballers: this is the meaning of life in the new millennium. Controlling it is SHIT TV, the ultimate reality channel, which dares to put homicidal dwarves or rollerblades and obese mamas in tutus. Reluctant celebrity Tomas has had enough. Armed with a Tommy gun and a revolver, he sets out to teach the world a lesson and becomes a messiah in the process. Along the way he will combat the Russian Great Bear, travel a thousand years into the future and redefine the West, aided by a militant judge, an angelic prostitute, a telekinetic alien and the greatest Frenchman who has ever lived.

A book that is recommended by figures as respected as Stephen Fry, Noel Fielding and James Herbert has a lot to live up to. Tomas is one such book and James Palumbo's satirical take on modern-day excess will polarise opinions.

Some will find it banal, others enlightening; it is unlikely that two people will share the same reading experience. Bankers and footballer's will be horrified by their professions portrayal while the working-class hero may find that there is much of his disgust at the modern world mirrored in Palumbo's writing. What you do, or do not take from this book will depend heavily on your own beliefs and thoughts.

Often dark, violent and grimly humorous, this a story of a man sickened by greed and the unhealthy infatuation with all things celebrity. It is well written, though sometimes a little heavy-handed on the metaphor. The story is as contemporary as can be, bearing in mind the current financial climate the UK finds itself in and it will be interesting to see how well it reads in ten years time.

When an author uses surrealism to tell their story they find that the boundaries are pushed back. However, these boundaries are still very much in place and it is important that they are observed less the story become simply bewildering. Palumbo keeps within these limits and as such Tomas never becomes ridiculous and at times is extremely thought-provoking.

Although Tomas plays the lead, it is Teresa that will probably stay in the readers mind longest after the book is finished. She is a prostitute, forced into despicable acts that lead her to become an avenging  angel. There is a very short, yet very powerful chapter that helps us understand who she is and why she works in the profession she does. The extract below is taken from this poignant chapter:

“The pretty girl stands up to face her father's murderer. Another random shot, another senseless death in the killing fields around Sarajevo. Now she feels she's slipping from another world into a dream, or rather a nightmare. For the wolf, with exaggerated slowness, arches his shoulders and tilts his snout towards the sky; then he straightens to an upright position, moving one leg forward with an overpronounced step. He repeats this strange manoeuvre, still at a snail's pace, with his front legs outstretched before him like arms, claws clenching and unclenching, eyes fixed on the pretty girl. His intent is clear. He's coming to get her.
Tomas: A modern-day Little Red Riding Hood

The majority of people who read Tomas will agree with the author's feelings on his subject matter, some will not. This is Palumbo's debut novel and there are glimpses of a special talent that will hopefully bloom in later works. This is a very difficult book to review, the best advice would be to read it and form your own opinions.

Educated at Eton and Oxford, James Palumbo began his professional career in the world of finance. In 1991 he co-founded the iconic London nightclub, Ministry of Sound, and now presides over a global, multi-media business - MSHK Group - renowned for its vision and daring ideas.

Palumbo's strong opinions and refusal to be daunted by controversy have allowed him to create in Tomas, his first novel, a unique vision of the world, which aggressively challenges the moral corruption at the centre of the present financial turmoil.

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1 positive reader review(s) for Tomas

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Tomas reader reviews

from UK

I think I get the clever joke.......but is that good. It's a torturous read of pointless mini plots, based around chareters of little depth and of in consequential outcomes. The long and the short is that people lap up modern day celeb and pointless crap to the point where the world is going to pot. The joke surely is the fact a bunch of high brow parts hail it as amazing, and thus support the very crap Tomas was all about in the first place. If this is the case it's a very bad joke and not worth the time invested in it. Don't waste you time reading this rubbish.

8.5/10 from 2 reviews

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