The premise of JM Georgesson’s novel Tomas is less direct than it would appear on the surface. At first, it may seem to readers they are entering a dreary somewhat menacing world where the eponymous hero ventures on a dark night of the soul guided by a shadowy man. This mysterious companion, Peter, approaches Tomas during the peak of a long and difficult slide into mental anguish and alcoholism. Acting as a sort of Virgil to Tomas’ Dante, Peter engages in a Platonic dialogue guiding Tomas through a sort of psychic conversation.
This conversation is of a highly metaphysical nature. Yet just when Georgesson’s prose might be strained it falls back into memory where readers are granted a glimpse into the experiences forming the Tomas we see in the present. It is a clever maneuver keeping the mystery of the narrative intact while at once granting us the insight we need as readers to speculate about where the story is going.
Tomas has gotten to this extreme point enduring an undiagnosed or undiagnosable anxiety disorder that has crippled his personal life, family life, and professional life as a lecturer in astrophysics. The shadow man Peter arrives on the scene just in time as Tomas is at his breaking point. But it is unclear if Peter is real or not:
‘Who is this guy? Is he just a lonely friendless nut case that has happened upon my poor drunken soul and using the fact that I am too tired to move away as an excuse to share his wacky ideas? Or does he really know stuff?’
Has Tomas truly lost his mind? The first third of the novel wrestles with this question in the Dante-meets-Socrates format mentioned. When the novel transitions, readers will find themselves as jarred by the narrative as Tomas.
Peter is revealed to be real coming to mentor Tomas, who we discover is like Peter an empath. An empath in this story is someone who is extremely sensitive to the emotions of others physically and emotionally feeling what others endure and celebrate. Peter not only lifts the veil from Tomas allowing him to embrace his gift, which hitherto he has been unaware of and resisting causing his own illness, but also shows him how to use it to help others. Georgesson gives us power scenes of action where Tomas uses his gift in extreme emergencies as well as those where he deploys it in more intimate, that is, one-on-one settings.
As the story unfolds, we discover Tomas is a sort of New Age bildungsroman succeeding in giving readers a story of trauma, self-discovery, action, tragedy, and balance. Such a journey will be well worth reading for many. I would encourage readers who enjoy spiritual or metaphysical literature to definitely go to Completely Novel to read an excerpt of Tomas and get the whole novel. There is certainly much in it that will drive conversations between friends over coffee or dinner.
About the author, in his own words: “I was once asked, if you had the choice to spend your life doing anything you wanted, free from the shackles of working for a living and the constant pressure to keep up with the treadmill of modern life, what would that be? I didn’t have to think too long before answering, ‘a writer, I would love the opportunity to try my hand at writing fiction’. After over 30 years working hard in his managerial career, the Author finally decided, to put pen to paper, or more correctly fingers to keyboard, and follow his dream.”