Wonder Boys
  • Wonder Boys
  • Wonder Boys

Wonder Boys

4.2 34
by Michael Chabon

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Chabon’s extraordinary story of one turbulent weekend in the life of a struggling writer, a satire of the permanent adolescence of the creative classA wildly successful first novel made Grady Tripp a young star, and seven years later he still hasn’t grown up. He’s now a writing professor in Pittsburgh, plummeting through middle age, stuck

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Chabon’s extraordinary story of one turbulent weekend in the life of a struggling writer, a satire of the permanent adolescence of the creative classA wildly successful first novel made Grady Tripp a young star, and seven years later he still hasn’t grown up. He’s now a writing professor in Pittsburgh, plummeting through middle age, stuck with an unfinishable manuscript, an estranged wife, a pregnant girlfriend, and a talented but deeply disturbed student named James Leer. During one lost weekend at a writing festival with Leer and debauched editor Terry Crabtree, Tripp must finally confront the wreckage made of his past decisions. Mordant but humane, Wonder Boys features characters as loveably flawed as any in American fiction. This ebook features a biography of the author.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Mar.)
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.
Donna Seaman
This is a genuinely funny, laugh-out-loud novel, a sort of "Fear and Loathing in Academia" if you will, but infused with tenderness and a bracing skepticism about our worship of literature. Chabon is known for his glisteningly precise and graceful prose, but he is also blessed with a wickedly imaginative and energetic sense of humor. His second novel takes place during the course of one extraordinarily hectic weekend during which his crazy hero, Professor Grady Tripp, manages to ruin two marriages, cause the death of a boa constrictor and a dog, save a student's life, attend a disastrous seder and a chaotic writers' conference, and lose the only copy of his manuscript. Now don't groan when I tell you that "Wonder Boys" is also the title of the novel Tripp has wasted seven years of his disorderly life on, because this is not your typical, bloodless novel-within-a-novel. It is, instead, a simultaneously hilarious and insightful tale about the Faustian bargains writers make, the fissures the act of writing rends in the wall between fact and fantasy, and, for good measure, the basic absurdity of human endeavors. It's also an uproarious portrait of the artist as self-indulgent fool. Tripp's "wonder boys" are, like Chabon, young writers who achieve instant success. The trick, then, is to maintain it. Whereas his endearingly addled and irresistible hero fails, Chabon, for all his musing on the dark side of the writer's life, is succeeding brilliantly.
Richard Eder
A beguiling and wickedly smart novel….There is first—rate satirical farce in Chabon's novel but essentially it is something rarer: satirical comedy.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Jonathan Yardley
The young star of American letters…a writer not only of rare skill and wit but a self—evident and immensely appealing generosity.
The Washington Post Book World Review
Shelby Hearon
[A] wise, wildly funny story…Chabon is a flat—out wonderful writer—evocative and inventive, pointed and poignant.
Chicago Tribune

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Open Road Media
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Read an Excerpt

Grady Tripp is a middle-aged philandereer with a penchant for pot and failed marriages, who is unable to complete the long-awaited follow-up to his award-winning novel. HIs brilliant student James Leer is a troubled young writer obsessed with Hollywood suicides and prone to fabrication and petty thievery. In their odyssey through the streets of Pittsburgh, Grady andJames are joined by Grady's pregnant mistress, his hilariously bizarre editor and an achingly beautiful student lodger. The result is a wildly comic, poignantly movig and ultimately profound search for past promisess, future fame and a purpose to Grady's life.

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Wonder Boys 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael Chabon presents a story that all people can enjoy. The aging hipsters of American society will enjoy the character of Grady Tripp, the pot-smoking hack writer who is constantly trying to figure out how his life ended up the way it did, swirling quickly down the toilet. The bitter disaffectionate youth will enjoy the struggles of James Leer, a minor kleptomaniac and aspiring writer, and the cynical citizens of American's population will enjoy Terry Crabtree, who realizes that romatic love is a joke and that happiness is related to job standing. The Wonder Boys has as many fascinating characters as America has fascinating people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Wonder Boys' is about Grady Tripp, a middle-age English professor and novelist who should have grown up long ago. I like the book because I can relate to Grady Tripp's plight. He needs to ditch the drugs and take responsibility for himself. As always, the book is better than the movie. All we see in the movie version of 'Wonder Boys' is an aging writer smoking dope for seemingly no reason at all. But in the book, readers explore the dank depths of Grady Tripp's depraved existence. The pot becomes not the focus of the story, but a symptom of Grady Tripp's larger problem-- a youth slipping quickly away. If you have $20 to spend, this could be a good way to do it. Great for weed heads trying to quit, out-of-work writers and anyone going through a mid-life crisis.
tim8160 More than 1 year ago
Well written and doesn't have a total 'downer' ending like so many critically well received books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rich and engaging. Chabon can weave a story while offering insightful paragraphs that often need to be savored twice.
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
On the surface, Grady Tripp is probably one of the most loathsome individuals I have ever read about in literature—he’s spent seven years on a 2,611 page monstrosity that has gone absolutely nowhere and like his life meandered everywhere, he’s come to the dissolution of his third marriage, he’s carried on an affair for about five years with the married chancellor who is now carrying his child, he’s smoked an entire football field of weed, and yet he can’t seem to cut himself off, and he harbors a certain amount of jealousy for James Leer, a student of his who has managed to finish his novel, while he has not—and yet I liked him anyway, and I couldn’t wait to see what crisis he would manage to find himself in the middle of next. He’s a train wreck, but he’s a somewhat loveable train wreck all the same, because he recognizes that he’s a complete and utter mess, and he has little, if any, hope for redemption. This novel works, because Grady Tripp has a heart. He’s a man filled with misguided direction and false hope, and yet he still continues to go forth and attempt to conquer the world. He may have flushed seven years of his life down the toilet working on a novel that even he knows doesn’t really work, but he still believes there’s an ending out there somewhere for it, and all he has to do is find it. Like the main character, the prose of WONDER BOYS is both elegant and disturbing, and it’s a beautiful read from the first page to the last. And I enjoyed every single minute of it. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
ctothep More than 1 year ago
Seriously, I think there is no greater compliment to a writer than reading a book in one sitting. Bravo!
Aglaia More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favourite books. I must admit I started with the movie, which is usually a bad idea (not in this case though), and bought the book a few years later. I finished it within a few days, and absolutely loved every bit of it.The style is refined, but not pompous,and very straightforward. The characters are unforgettable, and come alive without exception. I loved the dry humor of the novel, and I also appreciated the fact that it still remains very human. You can see, feel, touch the connection among the characters. It has a very real feel to it, and yet utterly absurd. I very highly recommend this novel.
sweetdog More than 1 year ago
Another Michael Chabon that I thoroughly enjoyed. I could not put it down. It is an easy read. The characters are unique. The storyline is quirky. I am truly a Michael Chabon fan now.
JH_Climber More than 1 year ago
Michael Chabon's amusing and insightful novel Wonderboys concerns an aging novelist, Grady Tripp (also the narrator), whose life and 2,600 page novel are quickly spinning onward without him. Other important characters include Grady¿s long-time agent, Terry Crabtree, and Grady¿s most gifted and troubled student, James Leer. The novel is divided into parts, of varying length, that move fluidly between present actions, the past, and what it means to be a writer. It is funny, sad, and bizarre in so many ways, but it does seem to capture some of the ethos of writing and reading literature.
Joan-Grace More than 1 year ago
Michael Chabon is a master of character development and has captured the angst and depression of Grady Tripp, the main character. Grady is suffering from writers block and the situations in which he finds himself are at once hilarious and tragic.
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