- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 29 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812979214
- ISBN-13: 978-0812979213
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 281 g
- Average Customer Review: 113 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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 the Hardcover 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 the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
you won't do better at this price anywhere I would recommend it to a friend I do think this product is of high cost efficient and practicality. Have about five sets now.
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.
On top of its ludicrous yet somehow plausible plot, Chabon flaunts an enviable ability to construct perfectly crafted sentences and drolly concise depictions, sprinkled liberally with references to highbrow and lowbrow culture from the last century. About a voracious reader: "Once I had come upon the spectacle of Sara, finished with a volume of C. P. Snow while only partway through one of the long baths she took for her bad back, desperately scanning the label on a bottle of Listerine." About a free-spirited sister-in-law: "...it would certainly be typical of Deborah to decide that the best possible way of preparing for a family Seder was to drink Manischewitz and lie around half naked reading 'Betty and Veronica.'"
Chabon is a writer's writer whose prose can distract critics and colleagues to a begrudgingly awed full stop. Fortunately for readers, however, he aims his novels at a much broader audience.
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.
Grady Tripp (a "wonder boy") is a onetime-lauded author who is slowly being sucked down into the quicsand of his 2000-plus-page book "Wonder Boys." The middle-aged professor is standing in the wrecks of two marriages, a stagnant career, and a pregnant married mistress. Amid his rapidly deteriorating life, he befriends a morbid young student, James Leer. Not to mention his endangered agent Crabtree, who hopes that "Wonder Boys" will salvage his career.
Things go rapidly awry when James and Grady are looking at a jacket that once belonged to Marilyn Monroe. Suddenly a blind dog attacks Grady, and James shoots the dog. Grady sneaks the dead dog out of the house, unable to tell his girlfriend the truth. The sudden disappearance of the jacket, the death of the dog, and the sudden deterioration of Grady's personal life all mesh together...
Chabon litters "Wonder Boys" with references to pop culture and high culture, the literati and Marilyn Monroe in the same breath. The result is even smarter than either alone would be. And despite the label of a "cool" writer, Chabon's elegant prose proves that he's more than just a wonder boy.
Grady may be suffering from a hideous case of writer's block (although the result is that he actually writes too much), but Chabon clearly wasn't. He manages to grab hold what could have been a horrendously silly caper, and turns it into a wry work of art. His writing is sharp, bright and full of little points like a pinecone.
Grady is not a likable guy -- he's a coward, a philanderer, and he's in the throes of a very ugly midlife crisis. But he seems real, and somehow appealing. The flamboyant gay editor Crabtree and the death-obsessed James are nice supporting characters -- Crabtree and Grady are the "wonder boys" of the past, and James is the wonder boy of tomorrow. The supporting cast -- including a perpetually sozzled author, a sultry transvestite, and a sultry boarder -- add plenty of extra flavor.
Clever and incisive, "Wonder Boys" is a vivid look at aging, writing and the academic life. In his second fantastic novel, Chabon proves that he's no wonder boy -- he's just a wonder.
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