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Wonder Boys (Bestselling Backlist) [Paperback]

Michael Chabon
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan 1996 Bestselling Backlist
A modern classic, now in a welcome new edition, Wonder Boys firmly established Michael Chabon as a force to be reckoned with in American fiction. At once a deft parody of the American fame factory and a piercing portrait of young and old desire, this novel introduces two unforgettable characters: Grady Tripp, a former publishing prodigy now lost in a fog of pot and passion and stalled in the midst of his endless second book, and Grady’s student, James Leer, a budding writer obsessed with Hollywood self-destruction and struggling with his own searching heart. All those who love Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay will find the same elegant imagination, bold humor, and undeniable warmth at work in Wonder Boys.

“[A] wise, wildly funny story . . . Chabon is a flat-out wonderful writer– evocative and inventive, pointed and poignant.”
–Chicago Tribune

“Whether making us laugh or making us feel the breathtaking impermanence of things, Michael Chabon keeps us wide awake and reading.”
–All Things Considered

“Beguiling and wickedly smart . . . There is first-rate satirical farce in Chabon’s novel but essentially it is something rarer: satirical comedy.”
–Los Angeles Times Book Review

From the Trade Paperback edition.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press (Jan 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312140940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312140946
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.6 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,590,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of seven novels - including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union - two collections of short stories, and one other work of non-fiction. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and children.

Product Description


‘The natural exuberance and extravagance of Chabon’s writing is matched by dazzling wit.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A deliriously funny novel…Chabon’s elegant style, perfectly realised characters and comic vision combine to make the most enjoyable novel of the year.’ Esquire

‘A wonderfully teasing comic novel…Chabon juggles all these preoccupations with a quirky deftness he employs in his first novel.’ Independent

‘“Wonder Boys” is a superb creation, a raucously comic yet deeply lyrical work. Chabon has evolved into a seriously funny writer, a master of the comic set-up.’ Sunday Times

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Michael Chabon is the author of two collections of short stories, ‘A Model World’ and ‘Werewolves in their Youth’, the novels ‘The Mysteries of Pittsburgh’, ‘Wonder Boys’, ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’, ‘The Yiddish Policemen’s Union’ and ‘Telegraph Avenue’, and the non-fiction books ‘Maps and Legends and Manhood for Amateurs’. ‘Wonder Boys’ has been made into a film starring Michael Douglas and Robert Downey Jr. and ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’ won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, GQ, Esquire and Playboy. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and their four children.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Watch the film... 10 Jun 2011
I nearly always read a book first and then watch the film, usually tutting throughout that `it's not like that in the book'. With Wonder Boys however the process has been reversed as I am a big fan of Curtis Hanson's fabulous film which I have seen several times but have only just read the book.

Whether it was my love for the film or Chabon's cold writing style I'm not sure but I never really got into Wonder Boys. Chabon is undoubtedly a gifted writer but always, to me at least, seems to have the knack of writing unlikeable characters. Michael Douglas made Grady Tripp almost loveable in the film, here he's a bit unfathomable and the key relationship with Crabtree (done so much better in the film) never convinces.

I never thought I'd say this but, given the choice, watch the film.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
In this farcical send-up of academia and the writing life, author Michael Chabon focuses on forty-ish author Grady Tripp, an aptly named writer/professor who is so often stoned that after seven years he has written two thousand pages of a book that is not even close to being finished. Grady's book, Wonder Boys, is much like his life--lacking in focus, fixated on the moment, and completely empty of goals or a sense of direction. His third wife has walked out on him; he's been carrying on a five-year affair with Sarah Gaskell, the Chancellor of the college, who is now pregnant with his baby; his editor is pressing him for a final draft of his unfinished book; and his publisher and everyone at the college are wondering if he will ever duplicate the success of his first novel.

During a writer's conference at the college, Grady "saves" one of his students, James Leer, from a possible suicide attempt, but his "mentoring" of James leads to hilariously absurd disasters for both of them. Grady's editor Terry Crabtree, the tuba-playing transvestite "girlfriend" he has brought with him, a collector of memorabilia from the marriage of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, Grady's estranged wife, the pregnant Chancellor, and the violent owner of a car that Grady was given to settle a debt, flesh out the characters and keep the reader amused and laughing almost non-stop.

As the weekend progresses and Grady's personal life further unravels, he finds himself driving around with the transvestite's tuba, the Chancellor's fatally shot malamute, and an equally dead ten-foot boa in the car's trunk. Scenes in which he tries to prevent the trunk from being opened are worthy of the Marx Brothers.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seen the film? - read the book 13 Dec 2006
By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER
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.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great! Dark and Rich Humour 15 July 2001
By A Customer
Michael Chanbons prose is delightful. Jam packed with detail and wit, this is the perfect book for someone who enjoys good wholesome humour. Particular incidents with the snake are very amusing. The book sometimes is a bit hard going and requires complete concentration, but with perseverance this is an excellent book.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a lush loll among louche lushes 12 Feb 2004
What I loved about Wonder Boys is its droll expansiveness, the way our narrator manages to be hilariously self-deprecating, while Chabon himself uses extended metaphor and Homeric simile (and that`s as rare as hens` teeth in the modern novel) with extravagant relish. Just as certain actors look like they`re thoroughly enjoying themselves (Nicholson, for example), Chabon reads like he`s having a great time. All this in a novel about a man who`s trying hard (not) to finish a novel - called Wonder Boys!
This is in certain ways quite an old-fashioned novel, like a contemporary version of the 19th century picaresque tale. Oh, and it made me laugh out loud.
Pretty damn wonderful.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed reading the book
I give this book four stars because it wasn't on par with Kavalier and Clay in terms of plot. Still his artistry with metaphor and language is most definitely present. Read more
Published 12 months ago by F
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I read this after having read Kavalier and Clay and immediately before reading The Final Solution. It is a far less impressive novel than those two and I urge those who are new to... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ashencrump
5.0 out of 5 stars Delight
The novel was recommended to me by a colleague who enthused. I had thought that this might be because of their aspiration to teach in a university - looking for the role model. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Alexander S Innes
3.0 out of 5 stars Film version is better than the book
The first half is pretty good, up to the scene in the Hi Hat barroom. Then the story loses focus and begins to meander quite badly to the point were it becomes a chore to read. Read more
Published 14 months ago by BS on parade
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, horrible edition.
Wonder Boys is one of Chabon's most likeable stories. Every character is fatally flawed in just the right way to make all adventures and mishaps interesting without being... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Maupertus
2.0 out of 5 stars A book without much of an understandable plot
I may be going out on a limb here - given that the other reviews on here are largely positive - but I'm afraid to say I didn't like this book at all. Read more
Published on 28 May 2012 by Mr. Robert F. Hicks
4.0 out of 5 stars opens really well but does not sustain the pace
I thought the opening section of this novel - the first third of it or so - was really great as Grady Tripp moves from one disaster to the next, barely but just barely sufficiently... Read more
Published on 13 Mar 2012 by William Jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely well written
Michael Chabon really is a fantastic writer. This really was a pleasure to read.
It's not that often that I reread chapters of a book just to savour the writing. Read more
Published on 6 July 2011 by The Emperor
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderboys Review
This is another novel that proves that Michael Chabon is one of the greatest writers of our generation. Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2010 by ISeeMountains
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, charming, enlightening...
A great read. Charming, humorous, very readable, and yet very telling in its analysis of the human condition and what people will do to get where they want to get in life. Read more
Published on 4 May 2010 by Nicodemus Jones
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