Written by: David M Barnett @davidmbarnett
Published by: Trapeze Books @Trapezebooks
“Forty-something Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems. But beneath his grumpy exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world… for good.”
Sometimes I can spend days searching Amazon for books I want to read. I’ve just finished a book and I have that sense of loss, of emptiness, when there’s nothing to read in bed at night. I’ll spend hours scrolling, scrolling trying to find that perfect book that I haven’t read yet, but exactly matches my unique set of parameters.
Other times I’ll stumble onto one on twitter the way a drunken man sometimes stumbles onto a kebab. I’ll buy and consume the first thing I see with zero research or investigation into whether it’s good for me or not.
The latter was the case with Calling Major Tom.
It was advertised on twitter at 99p.
That was me sold then.
I went into this book totally blind. No idea what it was about – even want the basic premise was.
I can’t remember the last time I fell in love with a book so quickly and so completely.
The character of Thomas Major is a little older than me, he’s in his late forties and I turn forty next year but the sense of affinity I felt with character and familiarity with the themes covered in this book shook me to my core.
I wouldn’t like to think I’m just as grumpy an old bastard as Tom is, but I’m up there. I haven’t had the same series of terrible events that led to him sitting in a tin can on his way to Mars but I can 100 percent empathize with why he is the way he is. Calling Major Tom made me reflect on decisions and mistakes in my past more than any other book I’ve ever read.
It’s a beautiful book, full of sadness, despair, laughter and hope.
David M Barnett is a fantastic observer of people and has an amazing talent for bringing comedy forth out of even the most mundane aspects of everyday life I don’t exaggerate when I’ve been telling people about this book saying that this ability for comedy from minutiae reminds me of Roald Dahl, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.
David Bowie isn’t a character in this book, but in a way he saturates it. I Liked Bowie, but he had the audacity to die the same time as my mother so for almost a year I couldn’t go near him. I’d turn off the radio if one of his songs came on. This books clever use of Bowie’s death capturing the zeitgeist of the nation and being one of the hilarious reasons that Tom ends up on a one way mission to Mars was a stroke of genius. It made me fall in love with David Bowie all over again. Instead of the negative associations with my mothers death and his music, I now have positive ones associated with this book.
If you told me six months ago that one of my favorite characters in all of fiction this year would be a septuagenarian vigilante named Gladys Omerod I’d have laughed in your face. I’m legitimately considering contacting DC Comics and asking them to make Gladys the new Batman. David M Barnett made me fall in love with every single character in this book. I still love them. They felt like real people to me when I was reading and that takes real skill from an author. I really cared what happened to them. I gasped out loud more than once when peril was near.
Calling Major Tom leaps around from time period to time period, from characters in the present to characters in the past and I loved this story telling style. I only got parts of the stories piecemeal, meaning my brain was constantly trying to work out what was happening and where the story was going and it kept me guessing beautifully.Even when you think you know whats going to happen David M Barnett whips out an other little twist.
I listened to the audio version on my lunch breaks from work. David Thorpe did a outstanding job on the read of this. His performance perfectly matching the content and would heartily recommend it as the perfect introduction to the world of audiobooks.
Calling Major Tom made me laugh and cry sometimes on the same page. I’m not kidding about the crying. When I was walking back to work having just finished it on my outward journey tears were streaming down my face. I was so glad it was pissing down so other walkers couldn’t see me blubbering like a fool over imaginary people who only existed in my head. That’s how good a writer David M Barnett is.
Calling Major Tom is available on Audio Book here
and is available for kindle here