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Wonder Boys: A Novel Paperback – Apr 29 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 29 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812979214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812979213
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 281 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #205,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Mixing comic?even slapstick?events with the serious theme of bright promise gone awry, Chabon has produced an impeccably constructed novel that sparkles with inventiveness and wit neatly permeated with rue. The once-promising eponymous "wonder boys" are Grady Tripp and Terry Crabtree, friends since college, where they both determined to make their mark in literature. Now they are self-destructive adults whose rare meetings occasion an eruption of zany events. Narrator Grady, a professor/novelist whose unfinished work-in-progress, Wonder Boys, stands at 2000-plus endlessly revised pages, has destroyed three marriages through compulsive philandering and a marijuana habit. Terry is a devil-may-care, sexually predatory editor who has patiently endured Grady's writing block but who tells Grady, when he arrives at the annual literary conference at Grady's small Pittsburgh college, that he expects to be fired momentarily from his job. Grady and Terry, later joined by the campus's newest potential "wonder boy," a talented but mendacious student named James Leer, set in motion a series of darkly funny misadventures. Farcical scenes arise credibly out of multiplying contretemps, culminating in a stoned Grady's wild ride in a stolen car in whose trunk rest a tuba and the corpses of a blind dog and a boa constrictor. All of this affords Chabon a solid platform for some freewheeling satire about the yearnings, delusions and foibles of writers and other folk. Throughout, his elegant prose, breathtaking imagery and wickedly on-target dialogue precisely illuminate his characters' gentle absurdities. The pace of this vastly entertaining novel never abates for a second, as we watch Grady slide inexorably into emotional and professional chaos. Above all, though, this is a feast for lovers of writing and books, with the author's fierce understanding of what Grady calls "the midnight disease," the irresistible, destructive urge of a writer to experience his characters' fates. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on May 5 2004
Format: Paperback
Grady Tripp--professor, pothead, philanderer--is not all that likable; the type of egotistical pretender who rarely examines his own feelings, "an activity never far removed from looking for a dead rat in a spidery crawl space under the house." But, then again, none of the cast of characters who comprise his limited universe and massage his enormous ego are all that admirable: his underperforming and pliable editor, his suicidal and mendacious star student, his two-faced and newly pregnant mistress, his credulous and demoralized Jewish Korean American wife, his bubbly and flirtatious boarder.
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.
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Format: Paperback
It's hard to summarize why this book is as good as it is. Mostly, I think, it stems from the narrator's tone which mixes a gloom that things will never be what they were along with a playfulness in accepting that the past is gone.
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.
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By Mark Silcox on Feb. 22 2004
Format: Paperback
So, first things first: Chabon is, right now, simply the world's best living writer of English prose.
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.
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Format: Paperback
I'm one of the club members who believe that novels are just about almost always much better than their film adaptations. However, I found the movie was stronger than the novel. I watched the movie before I read the book, and don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book, but the movie inspired me more.
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.
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