Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Tom Stern writes about My Vanishing Twin, his new novel just published by Rare Bird Books.
If My Vanishing Twin were a friend you made in adulthood, it would be the one that you met casually but think about almost compulsively thereafter. You admire the courage it takes to wear the haircut. You envy the perfect fit of the clothes, hanging comfortably but still seeming new. You seethe over the career perfectly supplementing the deeper personal passion. You think about this person way more than you’re supposed to, pulling away at details rabbit-hole deeper.
Your longing isn’t sexual, but this friend does happen to be the gender that makes you itch. So you’ll talk about your burgeoning infatuation carefully so your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband doesn’t get jealous, so a more grounded peer or co-worker doesn’t unimaginatively interpret the situation. Nevertheless, you search opportunities to cross paths again. You stumble into pensive fogs throughout your days, playing this person back in your mind.
You wonder what books, bands, artists he’s obsessed with lately. What does she do for breakfast on weekdays? Who are the people he loves, used to love, thought he loved but turns out didn’t really? You imagine she lives in an apartment that’s just a little cluttered, but only because everywhere she travels, she finds the perfect thing to bring home—something just so her.
Eventually you’ll know this person to be just as human as you are. But not until it occurs to you that your infatuation is more about you than anyone or anything else. It shines a light on what you want your life to be but isn’t, on who you want to be but just aren’t quite yet, on what you hope to grow into and become. It has put you on a path.
My favorite books come on just like this. And I wrote My Vanishing Twin in precisely this spirit, for you to miss the world, the characters, the humor, the story when life imposes itself in between stints of reading. And for you to find yourself in moments of unexpected self-reflection as you contemplate your immersion.
My Vanishing Twin is about a man who has compromised his life to a point of stasis when he discovers that he is pregnant with his own twin brother, a highly atypical manifestation of a rare medical condition known as Vanishing Twin Syndrome. When the twin is born and turns out to be a genius with fresh eyes on the world, the book’s protagonist reacts by blowing up his life and pursuing his naive, youthful dream of becoming a rock star.
My Vanishing Twin is a book about family and about individual fulfillment, about compromise and about brilliance, about growth and about stasis. It is about learning to look past the assumptions and definitions we inherit in life, about the journey that ensues when we demand our own answers instead.
In these ways, My Vanishing Twin is your friend waiting to happen—especially if you fear that you’ve made all the friends you’re going to make in this life.
Tom Stern is the author of the novels My Vanishing Twin and Sutterfeld, You Are Not A Hero, published by Rare Bird Books. He is also the writer/director of the feature films Half-Dragon Sanchez and This Is A Business. Tom’s films have played festivals across the United States and in Europe. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Eckerd College and an MFA in Film Production from Chapman University. Find him on the web at www.tomsternwrites.net and on Twitter at @tomsternwrites.