O'Brien, author of an excellent series of novels, from _Going After Cacciato_ and _The Nuclear Age_ to _In the Lake of the Woods_, presents the hilarious comic tale of a linguistics professor who is fascinated by young women, craves vengeance on his ex-wife, and fears the revenge of former Vietnam comrades he screwed overseas. Thomas Chippering is a lying, narcissistic, self-deluding charmer who is fascinated with words and tells his story with terrific elan. Over the course of his adventures he receives a spanking in front of his class, loses his job, auditions for "Captain Nineteen" (the host of a local cable access children's TV show), tries to ruin his ex-wife's new marriage and the life of her brother who seems a little too close to her (both were Thomas's childhood playmates), and many other wild and strange events. There's a lot of pain and regret underlying the laughs, and the tale builds to an incredible surprise climax. A very fast and enjoyable read that is also excellently written.
This report prepared by David Loftus