Wonder Boys: A Novel Paperback – Apr 29 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Chabon's long-awaited follow-up to The Mysteries of Pittsburgh concerns the antics of a self-destructive middle-aged novelist who is suffering from a sustained case of writer's block.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Library Journal
Chabon himself is something of a wonder boy; his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, presided on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 12 weeks. Here, his eponymous heroes are Grady, an aging author attempting to write his chef-d'oeuvre, and his randy editor, Tripp.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
What makes Chabon's novel so wonderful is not that you'll meet characters you'll admire or like or identify with--you won't, one hopes--but that, even though it's a satire of academic life, this horde of misfits is so thoroughly believable. And it's one of the funniest books I've read: a protracted comedy of errors and pure boneheadedness.
Several years late with his fourth novel, Tripp plays host to his editor, who has arrived for a college symposium on writing and who hopes that Tripp, against all odds, has completed his long-promised magnum opus. With the help of their wayward companions, the undynamic duo collect in Tripp's 1966 emerald green Ford Galaxie 500 convertible: a dead blind dog, a tuba, a rather hefty bag of marijuana, a boa constrictor, a jacket once worn by Marilyn Monroe, 2,611 manuscript pages of an unfinished (and unfinishable) novel, an assortment of pharmaceuticals--all of which are pursued through Pittsburgh by a street tough packing a German nine millimeter. It's a Peter Bogdanovich farce for the literary set.Read more ›
The crux of this novel is the sliding manner of the relationships between the narrator - a faded author named Grady Little, his publisher Terry Crabtree, and their student/protegée James Leer - whose suicidal exterior and studied eccentricity masks an acute talent for writing fiction. The power struggles the three engage in during a drunken writer's convention at the University of Pittsburgh result in a complete reversal of fortune for two of the three main characters (who are the titular Wonder Boys), and a general change of lifestyle for the third.
Also in the mix of this frothy book are an obsession with old Hollywood starlets, a dead dog, a divorce, a pregnancy, and a transvestite clutching a tuba case.
When I finished reading Wonder Boys, I was torn with admiration for Chabon's accomplishment and bitter jealousy that someone can write such a book and I can't. I won't pretend that everybody will like this novel - I can picture many of my friends disliking it. But I stand by its merits: brilliantly funny and sad, and capturing its milieu of faded academic glory superbly.
The only really fair question to ask given this fact is how _Wonder Boys_ stacks up against his other work. Answer: it lacks the sheer jaw-dropping magnificence of _Kavalier and Klay_, but it's a step forward from both _The Mysteries of Pittsburgh_ and the short stories. There are at least three dozen chokingly funny one-liners, the plot is an utterly ingenious picaresque, and the hero, Grady Tripp, is totally believable. I've had friends who were similarly gifted but who used just enough pot or booze to cause their lives to spin that little extra bit beyond their control, and Chabon shows this happening with surgical and unsentimental precision, without ever sacrificing the novel's lightness of tone.
I saw the movie first, and think this was a mistake, although it does have many charms. There's a lovely pair of performances by Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey Jr. Also there's a wonderful scene near the end, involving a retired boxer and a jacket that once belonged to Marilyn Monroe, that's not in the book at all - surprising, given how sweet and apt it seemed to me to be in the film. But one only gets to witness the slow disintegration of Tripp's literary talent from the inside (so to speak) in the novel, and Tripp's drug use is also treated as being just a cuddly and insignificant eccentricity in the film, in that way that Hollywood people foolishly prefer to think of such things. The novel is much more of a cautionary tale, and a far superior work of art as the result.
I'm not going to go through the plot, but I will state that this was my first time reading Chabon, and he has quickly become one of my favorite writers. James Leer and Terry Crabtree were my favorite characters and there were moments I found myself laughing out loud in the quietest section of my school library.
The novel did drag on a bit for me whenever Tripp went to visit his ex-wifes family for the Passover Seder, but other than that, the story flowed pretty well.
I loved these characters and became attached to them pretty quickly. Chabon has the ability to make you care for certain characters, even if you know you would never be able to get along with them if they truly did exist. With this novel, he created a simple story about ones man situation which would, at moments, get worse than it was before but everything eventually works itself, even if it's through publishing bribery as was one instance.
While this isn't Chabon's best work, I am actually considering re-reading it if I ever get the copy I loaned out to a friend of mine back.
Most recent customer reviews
All components one hopes to discover in between the covers. Integrity in the writing itself, loved the descriptive prose, the characters esp Grady Tripp & James Veer. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Kindle Customer
Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon deftly avoided the sophomore slump with "Wonder Boys," a followup to the unique "Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Read morePublished on May 17 2004 by EA Solinas
In Michael Chabon's best work yet, he demonstrates his remarkable ability to write. This novel, though racy at times is not only entertaining, but relevant and semi-educational. Read morePublished on March 17 2004 by Stephen G. Brauer
Oh, what's not to love about this book about a middle-aged author and professor in a fading marriage, suffering a prolonged bout of writer's block, living in a large house with... Read morePublished on Jan. 9 2004 by Peggy Vincent
Grady Tripp, narrator of Chabon's funny and frantic second novel, is a fortyish writing professor mired in the swamp of his latest novel, a 2,600-page mess called Wonder Boys, and... Read morePublished on Oct. 29 2003 by Lynn Harnett
I read _Wonder Boys_ immediately after finishing _Oryx and Crake_ by Margaret Atwood, and was shocked that I'd had an easier time keeping up with the latter. Read morePublished on Sept. 22 2003 by Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel
I believe this is one of the rare instances where the film was stronger than the novel. This book is thematically inconsistent and, in many of the scenes that did not appear in... Read morePublished on Sept. 11 2003
I've barely finished this book and I already feel like a swan diving off the roof; Mr. Chabon is that good. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2003 by CoffeeGurl