Review copy provided.
Some of the stories and short prose pieces in Tom Cho's first collection, Look Who's Morphing, are perfect magazine pieces, the kind that gives a literary mag a shot of Viagra if it's too uniform in tone.
Taken all at once, the effect is somewhat unsettling at first, but a completely unhealthy and all consuming obsession with pop culture on the part of this writer does not wear thin, as Cho is playful enough to keep things fresh and lively (see this interview at Peril magazine for more on that).
If I was writing his profile for an Internet dating service I guess I would say that 'Tom Cho has quite an imagination and a great SOH.'
'The Exorcist' and 'Dinner With Auntie Ling and Uncle Wang' were both very funny - everyone should have a possessed relative to inspire them when writing grant applications, and an uncle who has some C++ bugs in his system, shouldn't they? Of course they should.
'Today On Dr Phil' succeeds admirably in making both theory and pop culture look silly together. Intellectualise first, and then riot in the studio. I would like to see what Cho could do with Blazing Saddles, let alone what his Uncle Shen can do with a streetcar named lingerie and the " v*g*nas of strangers".
And I would like to see what he can do with novellas - 'CockRock' is a clever take on Swift and it would be good to see him, shall we say, fully extended. I also liked the short and pithy 'Dinner With My Brother', where Chinese names are discussed - 'if patchy employment history has a name, then that name must be Tom Cho'.
This collection is a sparkling and polymorphous addition to that history - the energy drink you have when you're not a transformer, but kind of wish you were. I want to see him skip and hop through clover again sometime soon.
(A great time for the Giramondo website to do a morph, as well. Looking GOOD.)