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Wonder Boys Paperback – 3 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (3 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857024052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857024050
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,130 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

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.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. Borrington on 10 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
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 By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 21 April 2007
Format: Paperback
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 By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Dec. 2006
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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. The last one hundred pages I had to push myself to get through as I wasn't enjoying it at all. It was no fun and I just wanted it over with.

Also I felt the prose was a little annoying as the writer was constantly going off on uninteresting asides. I know its standard for writers to not just write one sentence to tell us that the character walked down the garden to the greenhouse. There was just something irritating about it when this author would give us three paragraphs about what was planted in the garden etc. In the end, does even one reader care? I wanted him to get on with it. There are too many pointless, unneeded wanders into stuff that didn't need to be explored. There is a bit of bloat to the book.

The extended sequence when Grady attends Passover dinner with his wife's Jewish family was so overlong and boring that I skipped a lot of pages.

The novel (1995) was okay overall, but the much shorter and to the point film version (2000) is better. I recommend seeing the movie and not bothering with the book. The storytelling in the film is much more economical.

Some observations about the differences between the two versions:


The first half of the book is very similar to the first 30 minutes of the film, up to the Hi Hat barroom when they first meet `Vernon Hardapple.' The film starts to deviate slightly from the book from here. I personally found the novel had peaked and the rest was a bit of an overlong plod.
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