Eugen Bacon ‘Claiming T-Mo’ – Reviewed

Reviewed ByEmma Lee
Eugen Bacon 'Claiming T-Mo' - Reviewed

‘Claiming T-Mo’ Eugen Bacon

Meerkat Press

ISBN-13 978-1-946154-13-2 (Paperback)

ISBN-13 978-1-946154-14-9 (eBook)

Salem Drew, daughter of a pastor, lives a timid life in her parents’ shadow. It takes an alien to notice her gentle, nurturing qualities and introduce her to a kinder, loving life. When she brings her only boyfriend home, 

‘“This T-Mo,” he said, speaking to his daughter. “Does he have a second name?”

Salem stood with tumultuous heart, looking at her father who directed words at her without removing his gaze from T-Mo. “I am sure he does, Father . . .”

In the deadly silence that followed, Pastor Ike unmasked his hitherto somber countenance to disclose a vulnerability to fury. He purpled and a furious pulse pumped on his neck. It calmed, the pulse, and ceased being noticeable, as did the florid hue on Pastor Ike’s face. Pageant fled into the house. She had looked and felt desperate at the boldness of her daughter; now perhaps she would hide her joyless face under the kitchen sink and clasp dismay in her trembling hands.

“And you are going to marry him?” There was no rebuke in Ike’s voice.

“Yes, Father.”

Ike’s preacher face acquired calm, not sag, and with no more erosion of control than that which he had already displayed, with no dislike or hatred in it, he said, “You are both strangers to me. Get out of my house.”’

Reader meet T-Mo’s mother, Silhouette, who was born on plant Grovea and was betrothed at birth to a Sayneth priest and married at 11. She was made pregnant as soon as she comes of age. Tradition means mothers name their babies, she decides on T-Mo. The priest, her husband, decides on Odysseus. This is a curse. T-Mo is T-Mo with his mother, Odysseus with his father. ‘Eyes told the boys apart: T-Mo’s carried poems in them; Odysseus and his eyes stayed flat.’ The child battles between the two sides of his identity. Silhouette eventually leaves her priest-husband Novic who uses as much influence as he can to keep Odysseus as Odysseus.

Salem and T-Mo settle and she becomes pregnant. T-Mo relishes the role of fatherhood to Myra, a hyrid part-alien, part-human. The family visit Grovea when Myra is still a young child. T-Mo falls under Novic’s influence again and on return to earth, T-Mo disappears. Salem is tricked into believing she’s been widowed, holds a funeral and leaves for another small town. Myra grows up and falls in love with a human boy, Vida, who is gawky and awkward and also teased and treated as an outsider by other schoolchildren. Myra and Vida have a daughter, Tempest, who has the gift of stepping, i.e. sliding into another’s mind. In her family members she sees T-Mo, suspects he’s not dead. Her suspicions turn out to be true. A man who looks like T-Mo turns up but says his name’s Odysseus. Odysseus tells Myra he wanted to be T-Mo but Novic didn’t allow it and sets up idea that he’s just a victim like Silhouette, Salem and Myra. Can the three women join forces and find T-Mo? Or does Novic prove stronger?

At face value, ‘Claiming T-Mo’ is a battle between good and evil in one twinned personality. However, the story’s layers go deeper to explore notions of identity, individuality, hierarchy and genetic inheritance. Eugen Bacon weaves in elements of magic realism seamlessly, creating a story that feels more like an adult fairytale than a tale about aliens. The alien elements are crucial in a story that explores how others are treated and how those regarded as different are either integrated or excluded from the dominant society. Themes that are very contemporary and relevant. ‘Claiming T-Mo’ is enchanting with distinctive characters that compels readers to discover if T-Mo can overcome his fate in a multi-layered story.