Wonder Boys
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Wonder Boys

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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  21,774 ratings  ·  1,187 reviews
In his first novel since The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Chabon presents a hilarious and heartbreaking work—the story of the friendship between the eponymous “wonder boys”—Grady, an aging writer who has lost his way, and Tripp, whose relentless debauchery is capsizing his career.
383 pages
Published 1998 by Dt. Taschenbuch-Verl. (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mandy
Second only to Catcher in the Rye in my all-time favorite list of books. If you are a writer, if you've taken a creative writing class, if you've verged on totally and completely fucking up your life with sweet redemption held just at your fingertips, but which you chose to thumb your nose at for just a teensy bit longer....god, read this book. If you love prose, good prose, jubillant, wild, ecstatic indulgent prose, read Chabon. I just want to roll around in his words and bathe in it like a bub...more
Dusty Myers
For a straight man, Chabon is very gay friendly. I know there's been stuff written, possibly by Chabon himself, about early gay liaisons he undertook, but now the man's married with three, four kids. And yet Chabon's smart enough to write this:

"[James] looked over at Crabtree with a smile that was crooked and half grateful. He didn't seem particularly distressed or bewildered, I thought, on awakening to his first morning as a lover of men. While he worked his way up the buttons of my old flannel...more
mark
Wonder Boys
Over Christmas I met a woman named Storm. When she found out I was a writer she became excited and inquisitive. Her therapist, she said, told her she should "reinvent" herself so she signed up for a five-day writer's workshop. She asked me all sorts of questions and I answered truthfully. I told her writing was a great way to find out who you are, and also, a great way to express yourself.

Now I come home and find this book "Wonder Boys" on my bookshelf and it's calling out to me" "Rea...more
Robert
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...more
Katie
It's funny, but every time someone tells Grady his novel's a bust, I'm not sure if they mean his Wonder Boys, or the one in my hands.

Because oi, what a bust.

First off, Chabon's a great writer. He globs the exposition thick, but his simile and characterization are so spot-on that I let it pass. As for story....

The big beefs:
1. Great first one-hundred pages. Then we're ripped out of Philadelphia and all central plot lines (the finishing of the novel, the stolen jacket, the pregnant lover), and...more
Kemper
This is the second book I've read recently that involved the main character being an adulterer, impregnating someone other than his wife, and generally being such a screw-up that they wreck the life of anyone who depends on them. But while I hated Rabbit from Rabbit, Run to the point of wishing he was real so I could find him and pummel him with a baseball bat, I actually LIKED Grady Tripp and rooted for him to put down the joint and get his act together.

I'd read Chabon's The Amazing Adventures...more
Casey
Jul 09, 2007 Casey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the hydra
Shelves: to-re-read
chabon's adaptation of the famous tenacious d song.
Jake
He tried far too hard to be eclectic, over the top, and kitschy. The entire novel came off as insincere. The only likable characters, in my opinion, were Hannah and Sara, because they were the only ones with any kind of grip on the real world. Grady was a slacker and an asshole, Crabtree was a disturbing, self-absorbed douchebag, and James was just pathetic in every way. Actually, I take that back. Emily's parents, the Warshaws, are entirely likable. How can you not love old Jewish parents?

The e...more
Cher
1 star - I really hated it.

Somewhere around the part where the main character requested a pen to draw faces on his "wiener" (the author's fancy word choice, not mine) as he "pissed" behind a tree, I came to the realization that the remaining 179 pages were probably going to be just as unsatisfactory as the first 209 had been. Immediately after deciding to officially DNF this one, I smiled for the first time since I had chosen to pick it up. For a book that screams, "Look at me! I'm funny. I'm so...more
Dolores
I read this book after I saw the movie, so I am judging it a bit backwards. I read with a vision in my head of the way the characters were portrayed in the film, and tried to envision them the way Michael Chabon wrote them. For example, in the book, Grady Tripp is a large, imposing man, and his friend and editor, Terry Crabtree, is the same age as he is, and they have been friends since college. Of course, in the film, the slender Michael Douglas plays Grady, and Robert Downey, Jr. plays Crabtre...more
Marieke
I liked it. I didn't love it...unlike many of my friends. oh well. and although i could say i "really liked" parts of it, i did not "really like" all of it. i scribbled down some notes, so hopefully i'll be back shortly, maybe even tomorrow, to clarify what i did and what i did not like (so much). This was my first Chabon novel that i completed. I started one once but got distracted (oops), but do intend to read his others. Even (perhaps especially) the one that got accidentally left behind.
Aaron Mcquiston
If we were to categorize books that have literary merit but are depressingly non-enjoyable in a human sense, "Wonder Boys" would be a front runner. Michael Chabon can write. I give him that. Michael Chabon also writes the worst books I've ever read. Here you have a story about a writer (that's a tough plot to start with) that is not in touch with reality (the character is even harder to write) whom screws everything up because it is much easier to do the wrong thing than to be right all the time...more
Jenn(ifer)
Feb 05, 2012 Jenn(ifer) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of John Irving, people who liked the movie
Michael Chabon!! Where have you been all my life? What a great book! I loved the film version, but the book is even better. I must admit, it was impossible not to picture Michael Douglas and Toby Maguire as I read, but that's not a bad thing. I love the character Grady Tripp. He's just the type of guy I would have fallen for in my youth: ridiculously intelligent, creative, professorial, and hopelessly, tragically flawed. "As long as she was falling in love with me, I might as well start making h...more
Darwin8u
A strong, early Chabon. It has all the things that I love about Michael Chabon: the quirky characters, the beautiful filigreed prose, the androgenous and ambiguous lovers. But, it also contains more warmth and crazy energy than some of his later books. And I appreciate that. I appreciate the feeling that this book ran past Chabon's careful editing. Its kinetic narrative isn't about to be slowed by careful massaging. To Hell with all that. In someways it feels a bit like the Pastoral Wanderings o...more
Christina
What does a boa constrictor, a tuba, a transvestite, Marilyn Monroe's jacket, a man called Crabtree, a lot of pot, a car with buttprints and a blind dog have in common? They all crosses Grady Tripp's path in the course of two days where Tripp's wife finds out that he has a mistress and that she is pregnant...
So this is no ordinary weekend and Tripp finds himself in one awkward situation after the others. Towards the end, you as the reader finds yourself thinking "figures!" every time something n...more
Jodi
I really wanted to dislike Wonder Boys. I even tried to dislike it. I mean, here it was a book about writers (barf) by Michael Chabon (barf) who kind of gives me the willies (I think it’s the hair). Despite all that, Wonder Boys still crawled into my heart.

So we’ve got pot-smoking, wife-cheating, never-ending-novel writing Grady Tripp and the weekend from hell. His editor comes into town for writerpalooza or something and brings along a drag queen. Grady’s wife has also chosen that day to leave...more
Erik
Considering that Michael Chabon is one of my favorite authors, I have to say that this was something of a disappointment. The writing didn't quite have the same snap, crackle, pop that Kavalier & Clay or Yiddish Policeman Union's had. I never felt, in those two books, that the author was purposefully trying to show-off with his writing. There were, however, quite a few instances of that here in Wonderboys. But beyond that, it was just a little... wearying.

One of my uncles once said that he c...more
Raymond Rose
It’s funny when I think about how much it took for me to read this book. I was basically prodded and yelled at and asked repeatedly to read this book for the better part of a year before I did. A friend of mine was like, “You’re a writer! It’s about writers! You have to read it!” Eventually, I broke down and did. And man, were they right!

I read the book right on the heels of Richard Russo’s Straight Man (which, interestingly enough, the two books make wonderful book ends to each other and should...more
Jason
I'm not sure why I've never read any Chabon before this book. Obviously Wonder Boys has been around a long while. It was first published in 1995, there's been a movie about it, and I'm sure multiple reprints. I picked it up from the library when they didn't have his Pulitzer Prize winner Kavalier and Clay on the shelf. I'm glad I did.

Chabon's writing tumbles and stretches like a masterful gymnast in competitive floor exercises. He's likely one of the better modern setting and dialogue writers I...more
Newengland
Unfortunately, there's a long history of books set in academia where the protagonist a.) is a professor, b.) is an alcoholic or substance abuser, c.) is having trouble getting it up (it = his writing muse), and d.) is tempted by or tempting to the tender vittles we know and love as co-eds. Given how cliche all of this is, you would think that authors would consider this formula strictly where angels fear to tread, but no.

Welcome to WONDER BOYS, Michael Chabon's novel about a washed-up writer sla...more
Bridget
Sep 27, 2011 Bridget rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bridget by: Heather Walton
I see what people really seem to like about Chabon's writing. His style of story-telling reminds me of a really long drive around a curvy road that overlooks a cliff, something like I imagine I would see on a drive down the coast of California or in a car ad. It's winding, it's beautiful, and it's a little exhausting at times. While it doesn't necessarily remind me of John Irving, Chabon's writing does give me the same feeling when I'm reading it as Irving's often does. For me though, the main d...more
Sarah
This is a flawed, imperfect book and yet I give it five stars. It earns the stars partly because its own imperfections are consistent with the celebration of humanly flaws throughout the novel, and partly because its digressions, occasionally odd word choice, flailing subplots, and third-act inconsistencies don't detract from the strong, original voice and full-bodied characters. It's also remarkably hilarious. And "true".

Fundamentally, what most impacted me about this book was how powerfully it...more
Cathy DePaolo
I really want to give the book 3.5, but goodreads doesn't allow partial stars. I started out really disliking the story. The author kind of jumps you into the middle of everything and you don't know much about the main character for quite a while. What you do know about the main character is that he is selfish, arrogant, slovenly, and drug addled. Basically, he doesn't have a single redeeming quality. He whines and feels sorry for himself for pretty much the entire book. At some point though, ev...more
Thomas Pluck
A hilarious hellish week with a writer-professor destroying his life as he struggles to finish a huge overbearing turd of a novel he refuses to abandon. Reminded me in many ways of A Confederacy of Dunces set in Pittsburgh. I often avoid books about writers, but this one is so damned funny and true that I made an exception and don't regret it one bit.
Patrick
Aside from being pretentious in interviews, and book forewards, in my mind, Michael Chabon can do no wrong. I have read his works in the improper order, (I mean I didn’t read them in order of publication. It’s not like that I always start at Chapter 3, go to 4 and then back to 1.) I finally got to Wonder Boys. It’s a wonderfully wacky story about a college professor with writer’s block. The story goes in a million directions with hilarious, touching and frustrating results. Scene after scene in...more
Adam
I almost gave this four stars. Chabon is a pretty great writer, which admittedly doesn't mean he's a great novelist, but does definitely help things. Some of the sentences and passages here had me violently amused or intensely awed. Some I had to share with others, anyone who would listen.

I found this to be overall a pretty flawed novel, though. Crabtree and Grady are great characters, and so is James Leer. Hannah Green is not a great character, or even a good one. The same description basicall...more
John
Jul 14, 2009 John rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to John by: no one
Trifling. After I put this down that's the only thing I could think of that would accurately convey what I was feeling after burning precious brain cells and wasting God-given minutes I'll never get back. But maybe I was wrong? After all when Chabon first appeared on the scene along with Ethan Canin, they were the "boy wonders" of literature - talented, handsome, smart, with big book deals to boot. They'd set the publishing world on fire; who was I to try and put out the flame?

So, one day I was...more
Edmole
I'd always put off reading this because, although I love Chabon with all my glitchy old heart, the premise of a middle aged writer trying to avoid submitting a book to his publishers sounded awful. But then I saw a chewed up copy in the charity shop with that brilliant, busy cover and thought, why not? All his other books are a writer writing about writing, why not a writer writing about writers writing? Even if it's a write-off, it's only a pound. (Love you, Dalston Oxfam).

So, it was well worth...more
Emily
In the words of the protagonist's wife - appropriately for me, also named Emily - "Wonder Boys" all seems very male. Recommended to me by my 40-ish male attorney boss, who likened it to "The Talented Mr. Ripley", it reminded me more of "The World According to GARP". The author, while cleverly parodying his own creative process through references to the rambling, drug-induced, 2000+ page, 7-year work-in-progress "novel" of the protagonist, constructs obsessively detailed and bizarre characters an...more
Brian
This novel was simply excellent. I thought long and hard about how else I would describe it, but excellent is what I kept coming back to. Some stories excel with plot, others with the characters, and others with the beautiful writing; this novel has all three in spades.

First, to the plot. One of the first things writers are told they must do with their stories is keep ratcheting up the tension until the climax. Some writers do this well, while others get distracted by some scene they've conjured...more
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Michael Chabon (b. 1963) is an acclaimed and bestselling author whose works include the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). Chabon achieved literary fame at age twenty-four with his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), which was a major critical and commercial success. He then published Wonder Boys (1995), another bestseller, which was mad...more
More about Michael Chabon...
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay The Yiddish Policemen's Union The Mysteries of Pittsburgh Telegraph Avenue The Final Solution

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“There's nothing more embarrassing than to have earned the disfavor of a perceptive animal.” 127 likes
“It's always been hard for me to tell the difference between denial and what used to be known as hope.” 106 likes
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