Books by Tom Stern
Charleston Sutterfeld does what people do: shows up to work predominantly on time, tends to assigned tasks, avoids conflict and complication. Sure, beneath the surface he occasionally ponders whether a personal greatness might exist somewhere inside of him—as anyone, he presumes, might naturally wonder every now and again. But his life seldom offers occasion to descend to such introspective depths. So who is he to argue?
Until an innocent oversight brings Charleston face to face with an unexpected bit of information about a man known simply as Mr. Twytharp—the revered and reclusive visionary founder of Thundercom Corporation, a company known the world over as the universe’s single largest manufacturer of all things material. Housed in a towering eighty-six-floor building, on the third floor of which one can find Charleston’s cubicle, Thundercom is credited with revolutionizing business for the modern age. But as Charleston unwittingly discovers, the lauded humanitarian at the center of the company’s success barely resembles—in appearance, at least—the human beings whose culture he has so advanced.
Rather than proving his undoing, this discovery brings about Charleston’s inexplicable rise to the top of Thundercom’s ranks where he’s confronted with one unexpected oddity after another, including the fact that maintaining his success requires that he keep himself from asking one simple and central question. A question he has heretofore seldom asked of his life. A question that is now proving irrepressible. A question that proves deeply threatening to the most powerful man-like thing in the modern global economy. Namely: what does any of this mean?
Walter Braum is pregnant with his own twin brother and, frankly, he’s having one hell of a time figuring out how to tell people about it. The forty pounds he thought he had accrued by gracelessly compromising his way through life is actually a human being he has unwittingly carried thirty-five years to term in his abdomen. It is an exceedingly freak manifestation of a rare medical condition called Vanishing Twin Syndrome. But it is also a sudden thorn in Walter’s psyche, bringing into question most everything he thought he knew about himself and his life.
To make matters worse, when Walter’s twin is born, he proves a highly functioning adult with fresh eyes on a world turned long ago stale to Walter. Although the twin’s body is diminutive and malformed, he has a voracious intellect, an effortless charm, and proves to be a preternatural business savant uncannily able to turn profitable everything that his ambition touches.
In the searing light of his twin’s boundless adroitness, Walter is forced to face the self doubt and personal recrimination that has stunted his growth for decades. So Walter decides to strip his life down to essentials and to set out after the strongest passion he can remember having: his youthful desire to be a rock star. Granted, Walter can’t play an instrument, nor has he ever taken a lesson. Nor does he have even a modicum of his twin’s talents. But these are precisely the types of obstacles that his twin would shatter in pursuit of his goals, the types of obstacles to which Walter refuses to heed any longer—even as his rock-n-roll lifestyle proves to be anything but, and the discarded facets of his former life simply refuse to disappear without consequence.
My Vanishing Twin is the story of a man who sets out to realign his life with his purest, long-forgotten ambitions under the oddest of medical and familial circumstances, only to find that none of his pursuits—not music, not success, not business and industry, not beauty or truth, and not even sibling rivalry—will alleviate the responsibility he must take for his own life decisions.