Tom LaMarr once hopped a freight train from Omaha to Los Angeles, and now lives somewhere in between. His literary fiction has been widely reviewed and praised by prominent authors, including Joseph Heller.
Watch here for
updates about two new novels. In the meantime, October Revolution,
the book hailed by three separate publications as a "remarkable
first novel," is finally available on Kindle and Nook.
Barnes and Noble
About the Author
Hallelujah City, like LaMarr's debut novel, October Revolution, is a fast and funny read. Humor isn't easy to pull off, but LaMarr does it effortlessly Yet Hallelujah City is a melancholy novel, a meditation on mistakes that can never really be unmade. That tension, between laughter and tears, makes it deeper and more complex than many a New York Times bestseller.
Boulder Sunday Camera
LaMarr (October Revolution) has created a hectic, full-bodied account of a troubled young lady enmeshed in a bizarre religious cult The plot is stocked with enough tension to hook readers until the chaotic, fiery climax.
Tom LaMarr fulfills the early promise of his first book, October Revolution, with a daring second novel, Hallelujah City. One part Canterbury Tales, another part On the Road, it begins with a prodigal daughter arriving unannounced at her father's door and ends thousands of miles later with an explosive confrontation at a doomsday commune. Take an unforgettable road trip to Hallelujah City. You won't regret the ride.
Timothy Hillmer, author of Ravenhill
Quirky characters, an unlikely road trip, and a doomsday cult are the disparate threads that bind Hallelujah City. The journey takes more than a few odd and amusing turns, and author Tom LaMarr has fun with the trip while capturing the essence of a father trying to rescue his daughter LaMarr's sense of timing and setting are good, but what is most enjoyable are his lost-soul characters who are seeking nothing so much as redemption. And they find it, not in encountering the end of the world, but in encountering each other.
Tom LaMarr's writing is both hilarious and deeply touching. I have laughed out loud while reading his novels, and have also been deeply moved by his compassion and understanding of the human condition. Here is a writer whom one reads with real pleasure.
Robert Garner McBrearty, author of Night at the Y
I can see this as a movie, up on the big screen
Mensa Bulletin: The Magazine of American Mensa
A thought-provoking examination of how families are affected when one of their own joins a cult... Moving beyond media sensationalism, LaMarr depicts the vulnerability of those who join cults and the family suffering involved LaMarr subtly but successfully portrays the manipulations of a self-proclaimed Messiah.
Rocky Mountain News
The result is
a very unusual road trip and an explosive ending. This is a tale
of family - both its failings and triumphs.
The Arkansas Traveler
If the intriguing title and the conflagration on the book's cover don't ignite your curiosity LaMarr's story blazes with characters who provide the fuel: an end-time leader with stage experience, a single dad with parenting regrets, a pregnant daughter who believes she's delayed Judgment Day, and an author with serious doubts about his abilities to write and to stay one step ahead of the repo man. And there's a bonus: LaMarr's descriptions of winter in northern Minnesota will cool the scorch of summer in Iowa.
This is a great little book I randomly picked up in the library. It is the story of an end-times cult and what happens the day after the world fails to end. It is really more about a man and his cult member daughter and their relationship. I really enjoyed this book.
Highest positions to date: #8 Denver (Denver Post) and #1 Boulder.
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Surprised didn't begin to cover it. No, surprised is what Scott Chambers would have been if his daughter had phoned him. But this - seeing her standing on the small front stoop, her feet hidden by a frayed duffel bag that indicated she might be staying - this was Columbus sailing off the world's edge, or Newton watching his apple float, suspended in air.
"Mary." He waited a few seconds before unlocking the storm-security door, a few more before pushing it open.
"This is it," she said, looking past him. "Everything we've waited for."
"Right," he said. "End of the world." He moved toward her, stopping close enough to reach out and touch her shoulder, something he nearly did. The door's metal knob dug into his elbow. "You'll excuse me for hoping you came to your senses."
"The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon; for the glory of God did lighten it. Tonight, Dad. When my name is called from the Book of Life, I will let go of my senses."
"I see." A Volkswagen bus was parked at the curb, light in color, possibly white. He couldn't tell much more in the darkness. "But why in God's name are you here? If you really still believe. I know you didn't come to save me."
"The Teacher gave me a mission." The Teacher was Daniel Hawker, leader of Mary's cult. Of all the people inhabiting this world, he was the one Scott Chambers saw as least deserving of air, food, water, and sleep.
"Wait--Hawker wants you to save me? Seriously?"
"I must try to give sight to one of the blind."
"And you chose me?"
"The Teacher did the choosing. Maybe-" She lifted her bag. "Your blindness stood out."
The retired stenographer in the house directly across from Scott's peeked out from between her blinds, carving a sliver of flickering blue, the light from her TV. Ms. Brearty. Always calling roof and glass repairmen to her house for estimates on work she'd never do.
"And you have - what - five hours to pull this off?" he asked.
"My mission is to try." She walked around him and into the house and placed her bag on the hallway carpet. "You're the one with five hours. Clock's ticking."
He started to say, "Doomsday just seemed to sneak up on me this year," but chose instead to think before speaking. "I'm glad he sent you home. Whatever the reason."
"That's funny," she said without smiling. "Sending me home. I think you're forgetting that's still a few hours away."
Scott shrugged. Come midnight, this nonsense would be over. Hawker's mask would fall to the floor, transforming him in Mary's eyes into the lying, manipulative megalomoron that everyone else had always been able to see. This final scene had been scripted months before - when Daniel Hawker crowned himself "the true End Time Messiah" - and given its inevitability, Scott could endure watching his daughter affect an IQ one digit short of her real one. He would try harder not to agitate her. Just be glad she's here
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What happens to the leader of an end-time cult the day after the world was prophesied to end? What happens to the lives he disrupted?
Disciple Mary Chambers knows why the Cleansing was postponed. She corrupted her beloved Teacher, causing God to rethink His plans. Eager to inform the doubting billions that she is to blame - and that Daniel Hawker is not a fraud - she will ask the Teacher to accompany her to the press encampment outside Hallelujah City. She imagines holding his hand as she confesses her sin to the world.
Her father, Scott, takes a different view of who exactly did the corrupting. Suspecting that Mary is pregnant, he has his own plans for Hawker. He, too, is on his way to the doomsday compound in upper Minnesota.
Living in motel-squalor on the outskirts of Trappers Point, near Hallelujah City, author Adrian C. Hummel is also determined to reach Daniel Hawker. Exhausted from battling his editor, agent, and an army of creditors for nearly two years, Hummel believes an exclusive interview is all he needs to launch him into notoriety, granting him the fortune that has long eluded him.
These stories converge in Hallelujah City. Whether justice, atonement, or a simple second chance, everything seems to be waiting here. Or is it all just out of reach in this uncertain new world? Has time, as Hawker insists, truly run out?
Hallelujah City succeeds on two levels: as a study of desperation
in the wake of receding options, and as the complex, often tender
story of a father and daughter in need of reconciliation. Reprising
the humor and insight that earned acclaim for his first novel
October Revolution, author Tom LaMarr takes readers on
a deeply rewarding journey that's both physical and psychological.
And what starts as a trip across Middle America becomes a singular
spiritual quest, taking on themes as ambitious as grace, redemption,
and the essence of love. Readers familiar with LaMarr's fiction
will embrace Hallelujah City as a welcome return, while
others will be pleasantly surprised to discover a distinctive
new literary voice.
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Excerpt from October Revolution
THE FBI IS WATCHING my cats. It's part of the deal we made. Three Denver-based agents were assigned this task, or 1.5 per cat. Fenwick saved me for himself.
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Read your novel with much ease, excitement, and pleasure. I found it "a lighthearted, dandy satire with a humorous plot and a variety of deft pops at many deserving targets."
Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22
Humorous fiction is conspicuously absent from the bestseller lists. Maybe the explanation for this lack is that truly funny books, those that understand the foibles of humans without falling into mean or sarcastic diatribe, are incredibly rare. Colorado is fortunate to have an author on the very short list of writers of good humorous fiction October Revolution is an original and slyly funny book, and it is a remarkable first novel [His] humor is based on true affection and understanding
The Denver Post
Tom LaMarr is a writer who confirms his comic gifts in this wonderfully funny first novel The turbulent past of the Vietnam generation sneaks up and bites us where it both hurts and tickles most. Readers who lived through that era will see themselves as in a funhouse mirror. But everyone should find in October Revolution an absurd and exhilarating carnival ride of comic imagination.
Douglas Unger, author of Leaving the Land
October Revolution is a light romp of a book that explores the identity issues of a leftover '70s revolutionary Considering that this is Tom LaMarr's first novel, he weaves his tale with expertise and, along the way, provides the reader with enough adventurous humor and silly plot twists to keep October Revolution consistently interesting.
San Francisco Metropolitan
October Revolution comes out of left - and damn Left, at that - field [A] comic, nostalgic, sad and somehow hopeful novel about all the things we've lost and all the things we've become and all the things we discover we can never quite abandon. [It is] very much a revolution worth supporting.
Thomas Gifford, author of The Assassini
Huxley's not the only person looking backward to the '60s and '70s. LaMarr has written a satirical novel in the black-comedic style of that period, reminiscent of the work of Terry Southern, Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller. The surprise is that this retro form fits so easily into the late '90s. Huxley is a funny if imperfect and self-absorbed observer of the end of the 20th Century [LaMarr has] created a wonderful voice in Rod Huxley, simultaneously quixotic, resigned and oddly optimistic. He's great company, and if this small novel doesn't save the world, it's enormous fun for as long as it lasts.
The Rocky Mountain News
LaMarr's debut will invoke nostalgia in baby boomers no matter what their allegiances during the 1960s political wars. Well-executed flashbacks tell of [protagonist Huxley's] youthful folly, his overzealous contemporaries.
A mature reflection on the period that turned everything around. LaMarr clearly has been through it all and views it with detached humor throughout this novel of experience.
The Whitehorse Review
Hilarious ... The narration is consistently funny and insightful.
In this remarkable first novel, Tom LaMarr creates a loveable comic hero It's rare and refreshing to find humor infiltrating a literary work about the Vietnam War and the peace movement. But, in one hilarious event after another, LaMarr successfully summons the era's clash of ideologies with both wit and insight.
Iowa Alumni Magazine
I hate to admit I don't do much fiction reading, but October Revolution made me realize what I have been missing. This romp is enjoyable for the lineup of always interesting characters as well as the historical content in which LaMarr places them.
A debut novel - half-comedy, half treatise on '60s fallen dreams - that offers amusing insights.
A wonderfully funny book.
Rocky Ford Daily Gazette
It is a delight and, what's more, it has a great opening sentence: "The FBI is watching my cats."
Dubuque Telegraph-Herald (Rod Huxley's hometown paper)
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1998 October Revolution tops Boulder fiction bestseller list following successful readings at the Tattered Cover and Boulder Book Store.
1999 Movie rights optioned, script in progress (bad news for one of the main characters, now apparently enjoying her last hours of life).
2000 LaMarr grudgingly sets aside lengthy character-driven Story Tree after agent wins argument: "This would make a great seventh novel, as in, after you're established."
Author sets off in earnest for Hallelujah City.
2001 Movie plans for October Revolution grounded after 9/11. Sara relieved.
2002 LaMarr becomes a dad and turns out to be good at it. While studying the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation, he changes diapers, occasionally showers, and works with agent to complete and sell a memoir on getting a late start at parenting. Book is nearly taken twice but all they're left to show for their efforts are dozens of letters that say things like, Read it three times thought it was moving, funny but it needs a male audience, and men don't buy books..
2004 Back on the road to Hallelujah City.
2007 Hallelujah City published. Signings in Colorado are followed by Midwestern book tour.
2008 October Revolution comes to the aid of Jerry Seinfeld. After Dreamworks and Paramount Pictures use the pun, "Give bees a chance," to promote Seinfeld's animated Bee Movie, a Florida-based pharmaceuticals firm sues, claiming to have filed for a trademark on the phrase one year earlier. Reading his morning paper, LaMarr takes interest in the story, knowing the pun first appeared in October Revolution's Bee In protest scene. He contacts Dreamworks, suggesting they make the satiric novel, copyrighted in 1998, part of their defense. Dreamworks, arguing the "Plaintiff's claims are barred because Plaintiff was not the first to use the purported mark in commerce," prevails. Interestingly, the Florida firm, BeeCeuticals, also claims rights to "Bee In."
More typing (mostly beating the new one, Dealing with God, into shape). More print and radio interviews. First teaching gig at Steamboat Springs workshop. Speaking engagement at American Mensa Annual Gathering.
2009 Still dealing with God, while tinkering with a satirical novel conceived at a holiday party in December, 2008. This, for now at least, is Black Ice in Bright Sun: A Rehistory.
2010 First three chapters of Black Ice published by Evergreen Review, the literary journal famous for having debuted works by Jack Kerouac, Susan Sontag, Allen Ginsberg, Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, and Gunter Grass.
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from John Irving:
from Thomas Gifford:
from Allen Ginsberg: