Look Who’s Morphing

Tom Cho

Look Who's Morphing
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Look Who’s Morphing

Tom Cho

Tom Cho’s collection of fictions and fantasies is all about morphing and transformation. Through the shape-shifting, we follow the narrator on his surreal adventures, which include dirty dancing with Johnny Castle, a rambunctious encounter with TV’s Dr Phil, a job as Whitney Houston’s bodyguard and another as a Muppet, a period in service with the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music, a totally destructive outing as Godzilla, and that high octane performance as a Gulliver-sized cock rock singer, complete with cohort of tiny adoring girls. As these fantasies of identity, sexuality and power unfold, the narrator, his family, and everything around him, morph and change, to the moment when the collection reaches its climax.

Review

This is a playful collection of stories, linked by the unique voice of the central character. The title is a clever play on the 1989 movie Look Who’s Talking, and many stories pay homage to aspects of the 80s. The book is written in the first person, and this allows the reader to enter otherwise surreal worlds. The character does indeed ‘morph’ – memorable stories involve him joining the cast of The Muppets (as a Muppet), becoming Whitney Houston’s bodyguard, and even gate-crashing the movie Dirty Dancing with his extended family.

These are not just well-written, humorous stories though – there are many reflections on identity. In ‘Today on Dr Phil’, the protagonist and his Auntie Lien appear on the psychologist’s show to talk about anger. As Auntie Lien has Dr Phil and his audience transfixed, the narrator ponders how he has a tendency to ‘intellectualise first and get angry later’. The concept of the body is also central: the narrator fantasises about changing his size and therefore status. These desires are played out in many stories, particularly in the last and longest of the collection.

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