Poor Tom

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Poor Tom by Martin Drapkin tells the story of its main character, Julius, a forty-year-old man who I would describe as pretty lost in the world. Julius is a Jewish photographer and painter, although I would not say he shows enthusiasm toward either of his professions. He also lives with his long-term girlfriend Naomi, a social service worker, and mother to Benji and Elise. Although he loves Naomi, the two definitely have their differences, something that is beginning to be a problem at the beginning of this novel. In addition to the above, Julius is the son of Herbert Dickman, a well-known classical-trained actor. He and his father have an interesting relationship; after having lost his mother to suicide, Julius and his father spend much quality time together but seem to ignore all the important questions surrounding his family affairs.

This novel really explores Julius’s relationship with his father and with Naomi. His dad, Hebert, has just retired from his long theater career after playing the lead role in “King Lear,” something that was to be the climax of his profession. However, after this play, Herbert begins to act strangely. Julius finds himself faced with the task of taking care of his father both physically and mentally after this sudden decline, something quite difficult, while also handling his relationship problems with Naomi.

As I was reading this novel, I could tell Drapkin was an experienced author. He writes exceptional character dialogues, thoughts, and feelings. However, I simply found this book was not for me. I generally enjoy Modern Literature, but I struggled to get into the narrative. I would describe the majority of the content as Julius’s daydreams about a life that he is not living. In his case, this usually involves fantasizing about beautiful women in the early hours of the evening and then spiraling into uncontrollable thoughts about basically everything else going on in his day-to-day. Although Julius is written as a sort of awkward, and unsure character (with which his daydreams very much coincide), I found the story did not particularly move forwards or backward. Even at the end of this novel, I struggled to find a real conclusion, more of just a series of events that happened to Julius which he then pondered on. Although Julius’s character is pretty wishy-washy, I do think some sort of novel climax or major event is necessary, which I simply did not get out of this novel.

As a whole, even though I was not particularly fond of Poor Tom, it was not a bad read. I believe it would be a story enjoyable for those who enjoy slow-moving fiction or who may be feeling pretty lost themselves.

Reviewed By:

Author Martin Drapkin
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 212 pages
Publisher HenschelHAUS Publishing
Publish Date 01-Jan-2023
ISBN 9781595989321
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Issue January 2023
Category Modern Literature