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Wonder Boys: A Novel Paperback – Apr 29 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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99 by Wayne Gretzky 99 by Wayne Gretzky

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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 113 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #55,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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 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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Top Customer Reviews

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
Readers coming to this book via Curtis Hanson's wonderful film, as I did, will not be disappointed. Screenwriter Steve Kloves did a remarkable job of transposing it into a touching comedy, but when you read Chabon's original you realise just how much more there is in it and how perfectly director Hanson captured its tone. There's a whole backstory on Grady's youth involving a suicidal writer in the style of H. P. Lovecraft, and the tale of how he met his editor Terry Crabtree. There's much more of the visit to the Jewish family home of Grady's soon-to-be-ex-wife Emily, and more than one dead pet. Chabon's prose is remarkable. He sneaks up on you with an uncanny ability to be both laconic and precise, humorous and profound, erudite without annoying you with his erudition. To wit: "I'd spent the whole of my life waiting to awake on an ordinary morning in the town that was destined to be my home, in the arms of the woman I was destined to love, knowing the people and doing the work that would make up the changing but essentially invariable landscape of my particular destiny. Instead here I was, forty-one years old, having left behind dozens of houses, spent a lot of money on vanished possessions and momentary entertainments, fallen desperately in and abruptly out of love with at least seventeen women, lost my mother in infancy and my father to suicide, and everything was about to change once more, with unforeseeable result. And yet for all that I had still never gotten used to the breathtaking impermanence of things." And that's only on page 45. Writers (even, or perhaps especially, aspiring ones) will find this novel particularly engaging both for its story and its style. A true five-star affair.
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Format: Paperback
I'll admit that I was expecting to like this book before I even picked it up. My favorite books are usually about down-and-out writers doing down-and-out writer things... turning their relationships into massive disasters, fending off the tedium of reality with drink (and drugs, in this case), launching themselves into ill-conceived exploits that only compound their problems, all the while obsessing over getting things right in the one realm that they usually have complete and total power over: their fiction.
But in Grady Tripp's case, he no longer controls even that. He is a college creative writing professor who hasn't published a book in years, and is caught up in writing a novel that, like his marriage, has long been spiraling out of control. The novel takes place over the weekend when his college holds their annual "Wordfest," a yearly event when writers of various sorts assemble at this unnamed small Pittsburgh school for a writers conference. Everything that has been happening (or not happening) to Grady over the past several years manages to come to the surface over this tumultuous weekend.
What is truly amazing about this plot is the skill with which Michael Chabon, the most recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Adventures of Kavelier and Clay, presents it. His writing style is increadibly clean and sharp. He manages to be profound without slowing things down, always pushing the story ahead at full speed. His characters are vividly drawn, thoroughly realistic, and most importantly, interesting.
I'm usually a pretty slow reader but I fired through this book like a bullet, and look forward to reading everything else this new American storyteller has written, and will write in the future.
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