Wonder Boys

Wonder Boys

by Michael Chabon


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812979213
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/29/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 250,100
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Summerland (a novel for children), The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, and Gentlemen of the Road, as well as the short story collections A Model World and Werewolves in Their Youth and the essay collections Maps and Legends and Manhood for Amateurs. He is the chairman of the board of the MacDowell Colony. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.


Berkeley, California

Date of Birth:

May 24, 1963

Place of Birth:

Washington, D.C.


B.A., University of Pittsburgh; M.F.A., University of California at Irvine

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. 44 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.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing 17 hours ago
Wonder Boys was a pleasure to read once I actually sat down to read it. The story is written from the point of view of aging, graying, heavy-weighted, writer/professor Grady Tripp but it's really about his writing student, James Leer. James is a young, quiet, skinny, troubled, yet talented writing student who is obsessed with Hollywood suicides. Almost like a party trick he can recite style of suicide along with date of death and no one finds this strange. Somehow Leer and Grady become involved in a couple of crimes together and the rest of Wonder Boys is their journey in search of redemption and sanity. Michael Chabon's style of writing is eloquent with a bite of sarcasm. Humor and sadness hold hands on nearly every page.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing 17 hours ago
So even though the one and only Chabon novel I¿d read up to now was a choked mish-mash of styles and genres, I liked the actual writing well enough to try another one. Maybe working to a plot isn¿t Chabon¿s strength. I¿ve seen it before with other authors; presented with an outcome they must produce, they lose it and flail all over the place. Given a purview that only requires them to weave a story without a goal, they do much better. I think Chabon falls into this class of writer.This is the story of a weekend in the life of Professor Grady Tripp; washed up writer, inveterate pot smoker, serial husband, cheater and grand procrastinator. We¿re dropped into the action with the distinct feeling that nothing we¿re told or shown is in any way out of the ordinary. Weekends involving attempted suicides, stolen memorabilia, mistress pregnancies, dead dogs, drag queens, divorce proceedings, lost 7-year manuscripts, and tubas are what pass for normal in the life of Grady Tripp.Given an array of options like that, Chabon does an admirable job of staying focused. It could have turned circus-like and disjointed easily, but didn¿t. He does this by homing in on Grady and his interactions instead of giving us a view of Grady through others. Although I¿d like to have been shown exactly why people hang around with this loser, it would have diluted the story too much. By focusing on Grady from his own perspective, we get a sense of the man as he perceives himself. It is distorted, not only by a person¿s natural inability to see himself clearly, but also by his pot-addled brain. No wonder Grady can¿t finish anything. He¿s stoned almost 24/7. He thinks he¿s going along through life, greased, slipping through the world unnoticed, ineffectual. He thinks his actions don¿t resonate with others as much as they do for him. It¿s only when others become disruptive; like little dams along the stream of his life that he really interacts with them. And he can only do so by enveloping himself in a cloak of marijuana. Now, after years of bumbling non-production are the consequences coming home. The promised and much lauded masterpiece is still unfinished and he believes that somehow during this weekend, he will choose one of the five endings he has written and be able to present his visiting editor with a finished product. He also believes he can reclaim his recently decamped wife Emily, keep the status quo with his mistress Sara, rescue his student James from self-destruction and hang onto his misspent youth. Deluded is not a strong enough term for what Grady is.The writing is excellent. Chabon finds just the right words and has some brilliant turns of phrase. Good timing and punch lines made me laugh out loud a few times. What could have been a complete downer of a story is lifted by this and made light. He gives us a proper ending, but somehow I got the impression that it wasn¿t going to stick. That Grady would never straighten himself out. Thinking of him shambling about in this same way when he¿s 50 or 60 could be a sorry thing indeed, if Grady didn¿t see it as negative. He seems accepting of his shortcomings and fine with the fact that he doesn¿t really control his own life. He¿ll continue to churn out half-realized novels and think he¿s using his time wisely. What the hell, if it works for him. He doesn¿t have to know he¿s an endless source of amusement and instruction.
cestovatela on LibraryThing 1 days ago
In another writer's hands, all the wacky hijinks might have distracted from the main plot, but Chabon knows how to add humor AND make it relevant to the storyline. The characters were imaginative but believable and the way the plot unfolded felt just right.
presto on LibraryThing 4 days ago
The story ostensibly centres on Prof Grady Tripp's attempts at completing his increasingly out of control follow up novel of the title, Wonder Boys; yet as is not surprising with Michael Chabon, as well as an interesting plot, it is very much about characters and relationships. Central here, in addition to Grady himself, are his editor Terry Crabtree and young student James Lear, something of a loner, as well as host of other divers characters including Grady's pregnant mistress, an adoring female student, a transvestite, a dead dog and a tuba. The real beauty of the novel is the interaction between the various characters. Grady and carefree drug reliant Crabtree are long standing friends and this clearly comes through. Crabtree has a crush on the Grady¿s mysterious student, the unreliable James; Grady's beautiful student tenant has a crush on him; and Grady's third marriage is coming to an end while he pursues his mistress, the college Chancellor. His failing marriage does not prevent visiting his wife¿s family for Thanksgiving, and taking along James. The relationship between Grady and James is particularly well drawn; while seemingly a little detached from James, it is clear from Grady's actions and the superbly written lengthy dialogues between the two that Grady cares about James.No one comes out of this shining, the individual characters do have their redeeming features, it would be a mistake to right them off as insincere, and one cannot help be drawn to these people for all their human failings. Wonder Boys is very funny, enjoyable and at times moving, but above all it is the beauty of Chabon's writing that makes it an absolute must read. If you¿ve seen the film you must read the book, there are, not surprisingly, differences.
SimoneA on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Wonder Boys has a very unlikable main character! Grady Tripp is a middle-aged, cheating, weed-smoking writer, who can't seem to finish his 2000-page book. And somehow he doesn't seem to mind any of these things. After the first few chapters, I didn't think I would even finish the book because of that. But then, somehow, I started to enjoy reading the book, and I think this is all because of the great writing style of Michael Chabon. I like all the books I've read by him so far, even though the genres may not be my thing. So, again, he gets away with writing a book about something I don't like and making it better. If you don't have one of the above characteristics, or are not a big Chabon fan, don't read this book. If you do, read this book, and you won't be disappointed!
sturlington on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Normally, I don¿t particularly like novels about writers. I think it¿s taking the adage, ¿Write what you know,¿ to an extreme. Who would want to read about writers except other writers?This novel is the exception. It is an excellent book about writers, all kinds of writers, and the community they build for themselves with their editors and their readers, and the imaginary worlds they inhabit so much of the time. The novel chronicles the events of one weekend: WordFest, a literary festival held at the small college where Grady ¿ a disaffected, failing writer who yet cannot stop writing ¿ teaches. Things quickly snowball out of control, one event leading to another inexorably but beyond Grady¿s ability to slow down or steer. In fact, it¿s all quite similar to the novel he¿s currently working on, a 5,000-page monster he¿s been writing for five years now, with no end in sight. Events become so outrageous that it¿s impossible to distinguish reality from the feverish, pot-induced imaginings of Grady¿s interior world, the one where all writers actually live most of the time. And we, the readers, don¿t really care what¿s real or not. It all works for us.
jennyo on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Usually, when I've read a book, I try to avoid the movie and vice versa. It always seems like the second experience doesn't live up to the first. "Wonder Boys" is an exception to that rule. I saw the movie first and loved it. Even though there's not a single one-liner in the movie, I found it hilarious. I already knew I liked Michael Chabon's work, so I went ahead and picked up the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it too. Chabon has such a gift. It's a pleasure to read someone who uses words so beautifully.Along the same lines, "The Cider House Rules" by John Irving was a great book and a great movie. It's no wonder Irving won an Oscar for it.
wordebeast on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I'm embarrassed to say, I do like the film much better. The Korean adopted sister in the middle (thankfully excised from the film for bagginess) was ... well, bordering on racist caricature is a nice way of putting it. Still, hilarious delirious writing.
delphica on LibraryThing 3 months ago
(#30 in the 2003 Book Challenge)Man, this was great! I love this author, so I had high expectations and they were certainly met. Chabon has a great way of slipping in the most hilarious, laugh-out-loud asides, and creating absurd situations that don't seem completely unbelievable. I stayed up all night to read this one -- the older I get, those are fewer and far between.Grade: ARecommended: to people who like books about the writing process
seventime on LibraryThing 4 months ago
This book is perfect middle ground between Chabon's overly workshopped "Mysteries of Pittsburgh" and the spare, prissy "Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay."
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