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Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Wonder Boys (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Michael Chabon

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3,399701,588 (3.95)112
Title:Wonder Boys
Authors:Michael Chabon
Info:Wheeler Pub Inc (1995), Hardcover, 415 pages
Collections:Exceptional literary fiction

Work details

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon (1995)

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English (65)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (70)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
This is one of those books in which I experienced the movie first. In fact, I don't think I was even aware of the book before seeing "based on" in the film's credits. Picked up the book at a used/wholesale book store some time afterwards, and have been sitting on it since. As I am currently trying my best to focus on my many owned but unread books, figured it was past time to give this one a go.

And I enjoyed it as much as I did the movie. There is something, to me, about reading about other writers and their struggles, be they real or fictional. When dealing with my own perceived inadequacies, it's nice to know that other writers go through that as well. There are times I feel like I should just let go of some of my older projects instead of continuously holding on to them in the hope that they finally lead somewhere.

There is just so much going on in this story. There's Tripp and his seven year attempt at a novel that still has no end in sight, his oldest friend Crabtree who enjoys a good time even with the looming specter of possible unemployment, Tripp's estranged wife who has left right as the novel opens, his female student slash tenant with a massive crush on him, his Holden Caulfield wannabe student with problems, his mistress who also happens to be the Chancellor of his school, her husband who also happens to be Dean of his department, and their blind dog with homicidal tendencies towards Tripp. Put 'em all in the same pot and watch them stew, bring to a boil.

I did try to remember the movie as I read, and certain parts did come back, but it's been so long since I've seen it that it's hard to remember everything, along with what may or may not have changed. About halfway through this read, I went and picked up a copy of the movie on DVD, as the desire to rewatch it grew stronger as I read. ( )
  regularguy5mb | Jan 27, 2016 |
Saw the movie, read the book, needed to read a review to remember some of the plot, didn't jog a memory of entertainment or wonder at either movie or book. I guess it was ok. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
Very middle of the road. Thus a solid three stars. The book was full of cliches about writers - substance abuse, sexual antics with co-workers and co-eds resulting in multiple marriages thus depicting the writer as a "hopeless romantic", a Hunter Thompsonesque weekend with a gay man, a suicidal genius and a tuba (insert any three Fellini type items here).

At the heart of the book, a story about writers block and a seven year endeavor about a book going nowhere. Best friend as indulgent editor means the money kept pouring in without any product flowing out. And on, and on and on. The Talking Heads wrote a song about this book before it was written. It was called "The Road to Nowhere."

Harsh words? Maybe so. But lately, I have been wondering what the Pulitzer committee is thinking because I have read a few books from prize winning authors and have been gravely disappointed. There were however a few things about the book I enjoyed and those salvaged the book from one star all the way back to three.

There is some beautifully written prose. Some sentences, some paragraphs. There were times I read and re-read those parts and just enjoyed basking in how good they were. Chabon uses some beautiful words that aren't used often, if at all, in literature. Although that was done clunkily and unevenly, it was great fun as a vocabulary building exercise.

I also felt that at some point, this became a story. When that shift occurred, I was caught up in wanting to finish it even though I didn't particularly like it. I wanted to finish it because I actually wanted to find out what was going to come of the characters. There really wasn't one I cared about deeply or empathized with, it was more the idle curiosity of an onlooker than the active investigation of a participant.

I have another book of his sitting in the pile and I intend to read that one too. But I will give myself time between the books to give the next one a fair chance. I will cleanse my palate by reading a bunch of stuff completely unconnected and then return to Mr. Chabon, refreshed and hopefully untainted. I think this may be a book you either love or hate. I personally felt....meh. ( )
  ozzieslim | Mar 13, 2015 |
17 of 75 for 2015. It took me a while to get through Chabon's book. He comes highly recommended, so I was looking forward to this, but I found myself slogging through lots of marijuana enduced paranoia, sleepless nights, and all the things I don't like about academia. Grady Tripp is a trainwreck waiting to happen, who somehow manages to slide through the worst things life can throw at him--most of which are of his own creation. Not a book I'd care to pick up for a second read, although it is well enough written that I kept after it till I finished the whole thing, which puts it above Kathryn Ann Porter's Ship of Fools which I just couldn't bring myself to read. Curiously, the opinion of two different readers of Tripp's magnum opus, which gives its name to Chabon's novel, is I read enough of it. Well I read the whole thing. And now it's over. ( )
  mtbearded1 | Feb 21, 2015 |
So you know that bit of Chekhovian wisdom about the gun? It occurred to me over and over again throughout the reading of this book. Every element Chabon inserted into this story goes off sooner or later in one way or another, including the boa constrictor. I can’t say that the progression of the plot is predictable, but I want to say something almost like that and in the most positive way; a page and a half before every new tragedy in the inexorably unraveling life of Grady Tripp you can begin to see something coming, you can watch how Chabon’s facsimile of fate and chance conspire to bring about one travesty after another. It’s a virtuoso performance of plot-craft. But, as I’ve discovered over and over in Chabon’s writing, the real gem isn’t the plot (though it’s impeccable), it isn’t the prose (though it’s beautiful), it isn’t concept (though it’s interesting), it’s his characters. Now, I’m not normally a reader who loves literature for the characters most of all, and I tend to read with disbelief only partially suspended, but Chabon’s characters become real to me. I audibly gasp, I laugh out loud, my jaw literally drops; I read portions of this book pacing in my kitchen with my wife occasionally asking if everything was okay, and me wanting to answer “how could it be, with all that stuff in Grady’s trunk?!” It doesn’t even matter that Grady kind of sucks, that he’s a terrible person; I still feel for the guy, still root for him.
This book is highly recommended to that kind of reader whose reading is a symptom of a half-smothered, stillborn, frustrated ambition to write. I know you’re out there. ( )
1 vote CGlanovsky | Jan 28, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Chabonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verhagen, PietTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank-- but that's not the same thing. -- Joseph Conrad
To Ayelet
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The first real writer I ever knew was a man who did all of his work under the name of August Van Zorn.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Pittsburgh professor and author Grady Tripp is working on an unwieldy 2,611 page manuscript that is meant to be the follow-up to his successful, award-winning novel The Land Downstairs, that was published seven years earlier. On the eve of a college-sponsored writers and publishers weekend called WordFest, two monumental things happen to Tripp: his wife walks out on him, and he learns that his mistress, who is also the chancellor of the college, Sara Gaskell, is pregnant with his child. To top it all off, Tripp finds himself involved in a bizarre crime involving one of his students, an alienated young writer named James Leer.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312140940, Paperback)

Grady Tripp is a pot-smoking middle aged novelist who has stalled on a 2611 page opus titled Wonder Boys. His student James Leer is a troubled young writer obsessed by Hollywood suicides and at work on his own first novel. Grady's bizarre editor Terry Crabtree and another student, Hannah Green, come together in his wildly comic, moving, and finally profound search for an ending to his book and a purpose to his life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:28 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A funny novel on two college friends who relive their youth by getting up to all sorts of tricks during a literary conference. One is a professor who is writing a novel, the other is his editor. Both left college with high hopes of making a name, hopes which have not materialized. By the author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.… (more)

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