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Wonder Boys

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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  24,542 ratings  ·  1,359 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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Jonathan Kramer I loved this story and the book is far better than the adaptation with Michael Douglas.. What I'm having trouble with is finding anything that bears…moreI loved this story and the book is far better than the adaptation with Michael Douglas.. What I'm having trouble with is finding anything that bears resemblance to it whether narrative or otherwise. Great read! (less)
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I Only Watched the Movie!
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The MOVIE was BETTER than the BOOK
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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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Michael
Grady Tripp is a writer of a few novels; following the success of his award winning novel The Land Downstairs he has set out to write his follow up. Seven years later his manuscript for Wonder Boys was over 2600 pages long and nowhere closer to being finished. In his personal life things were messed up, his wife has walked out on him, and his mistress Sara has revealed she was pregnant. Wonder Boys (1995) is Michael Chabon’s second novel following the success of his debut book The Mysteries of P ...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
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
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
Bruce Roderick
This is one of my all-time favorites, and there is no book I love more! After studying English Literature at both the undergraduate and graduate level, having taken writing courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and now teaching creative writing I have can honestly tell you I have a biased personal connection to this book! Each character is masterfully created and each bears a resemblance to one of the many English Professors I have studied under, worked with, and my current fellow f ...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
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
Christine Ward
If you're deciding to read a book about the foibles of academia, and are debating between this book or Richard Russo's "Straight Man", read "Straight Man".

In "Wonder Boys", Chabon, a much-heralded writer mentioned in the same breath as Jonathan Franzen and Dave Eggers, focuses on the foibles of one Grady Tripp, an overweight professor who is also a serial cheater and unrepentant pothead, during one "writers' weekend" hosted by his lover and department chair.

The presumably-hilarious plot "twists
...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
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
Margaret
I remember being surprised at how much I liked this book that seemed so silly and focused on characters about whom I cared so little, especially the main character, Grady Tripp, who is a real jerk. But Chabon is talented and the book has real charm. The movie, while good, doesn't quite do it justice.
Mary
Yes, I started this on Wednesday afternoon and finished it on Sunday morning (it would've been Saturday evening, but I really wanted to savor the last two chapters.) That's a quick book for me - especially on audio. (yes, I got a lot of knitting done these past few days). The story sucked me in. And the delightful descriptions held me there. Not to mention a fantastically funny Seder (I laughed out loud on the street while I was walking my dog listening to that part) and some ridiculous (but so ...more
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
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New Book with Careless Protagonist 1 12 Nov 17, 2014 11:37AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please add cover? 9 28 Aug 22, 2013 03:02AM  
The Bookworms of RVA: Meeting April 7 Sunday 6pm: Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon 1 11 Mar 22, 2013 10:26AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Wonder Boys - wrong isbn? reused isbn? 3 36 Apr 28, 2012 04:08PM  
one of my favorite books and movies!!!! 1 63 Jun 23, 2007 01:59PM  
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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
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