Tom wakes up one morning to find his body’s been hijacked and turned into a human dialysis machine. He has to stay connected to Simon for nine months—or Simon will die. His rage? Just the beginning.
Inspired by Judith Jarvis Thomson’s philosophical thought experiment “The Violinist,” What Happened to Tom is a psychological and philosophical thriller, a horror story that any one of millions of people could, at any moment, experience.
On Goodreads’ list of Fiction Books that Opened your Eyes to a Social or Political Issue
Inanna Publications 2016
See interview by James M. Fisher at The Miramichi Reader here.
A screenplay of What Happened to Tom was Semi-finalist in the Moondance competition. A stageplay version is also available. Interested parties, please inquire!
If you’d like the paperback version, it’s available at all the usual online bookstores, but hey, why not purchase it directly from Inanna!
(And if anyone feels inclined to write a review or some sort of reader response that I can post here, feel free to send it to me!) (And thanks!)
“This powerful book plays with the gender gap to throw into high relief the infuriating havoc unwanted pregnancy can wreak on a woman’s life. Once you’ve read What Happened to Tom, you’ll never forget it.” Elizabeth Greene, author of Understories and Moving
“I read this in one sitting, less than two hours, couldn’t put it down. Fantastic allegorical examination of the gendered aspects of unwanted pregnancy. A must-read for everyone, IMO.” Jessica, Goodreads
“Peg Tittle’s What Happened to Tom takes a four-decades-old thought experiment and develops it into a philosophical novella of extraordinary depth and imagination. Tittle uses Judith Jarvis Thompson’s famous violinist illustration from her 1971 essay ‘A Defense of Abortion’ as the inspiration for this story of Tom who is kidnapped and surgically attached to a famous violinist. Tittle adds multiple nuances to Thomson’s original scenario, and the novel takes dark, unexpected turns as Tom desperately tries to extract himself from his dire situation. Part allegory, part suspense (perhaps horror) novel, part defense of bodily autonomy rights (especially women’s), Tittle’s book will give philosophers and the philosophically minded much to discuss.” Ron Cooper, author of Hume’s Fork and other philosophical novels as well as Heidegger and Whitehead: A Phenomenological Examination into the Intelligibility of Experience; Professor, College of Central Florida
“You’ll notice that the title is not a question, but a statement. Inspired by a philosophical thought experiment, Ms. Tittle has written a novella that poses the “what if” questions: What if men got pregnant? More to the point, What if they found themselves pregnant against their wishes? Well, that’s what happened to Tom Wagner. Out for a few drinks with friends after work, he next wakes up in a type of hospital room, but it’s not a hospital, it’s a clinic run by Dr. Anders, the woman who approached Tom the night before and had one drink with him.
One day he was living his life. He was a bright, young thing, one of many, with a loft in the city.
And the next day, he woke up—in a bed that wasn’t his own. Feeling… heavy. As if gravity had not just doubled, but tripled. And groggy. Not hungover exactly. It was more like a drugged fog. But that didn’t make sense….
When he came to the second time, he was conscious just long enough to realize his mouth was dry and the room was white. Very white…
“But Tom is not pregnant in the female sense, he is though, physically attached to another human by a cord. A cord that is saving another man’s life, and one that must remain attached to the two men for – you guessed it – nine months. It is a variation on the pro-choice/pro-life debate from a different angle, one that is thought-provoking, educating, and at times, humorous since there are some traditional role-reversals playing out, such as Tom’s girlfriend Beth telling him “He’s no fun anymore” since the ‘connection’ and his best friend and co-worker Steve brushing him off saying “he has a life too”. Tom’s whole life is falling apart, but he’s saving a life, isn’t he? It’s only for nine months, right? Or is it?” James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader