Michael's Reviews > The Wishbones

The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Nov 04, 08

bookshelves: literary-novels
Read in November, 2008

So, I started a pretty thorough review of this book, but lost it to the ghosts of the internet. So, I'll do a briefer version. I just don't have the energy to bitch and moan about books any more.

Despite the wicked words I'm going to use, I actually enjoyed Perrotta's book. It was a fun, trashy, smooth read, and I'd read it again, if I hadn't read it already. Got it?

So, The Wishbones reminds me a bit of a poor man's Nick Hornby novel air dropped in New Jersey. It's so 90s-centric and dated, so funny. The peripheral characters are more realistically wrought than Dave and his cadre of loser friends. Zelack, with his sleazy hairdo and rock star pose, and Dave's parents with their stinky newsprint and meat loaf and green peas are much more real than Dave's teenage problems. Why is Dave afraid of marrying Julie? I understand as a man, but not as a reader. Stan, with his marital problems, is more of human figure than any other in the whole book.

Perrotta starts to really hit his stride when Dave meets Gretchen. The four smokers, in costume, sitting on a chintzy balcony over the fumes of a dumpster and the hush of the parkway bring me into Jersey (though I'm there every single day) more than anything else in the novel. I laughed at the flat description of a 90s Park Slope and Lower East Side - mostly just because I'm glad all that grunge, self-important nonsense is over with.

Perrotta doesn't convince me that he has a solid enough feeling of music to write about musicians. His choices for detail are fraught with classic rock cliches and generic rock bullshit. Maybe that's the point. The namesake of the book is, after all, a wedding band. I just can't get past such pandering, or lack of taster, whatever the case may be.

And I do really think Perrotta is pandering to us. He doesn't trust his readers to know what a marble notebook is. Who the hell would be reading this book and not know what a marble notebook is? Nobody.

There's enough humor to carry the book, and to make it quite a nice vacation read. It's relaxing if you don't let the clumsiness of Perrotta's writing get on your nerves. Rockin' Randy and the Shiny Angels and the Nazis at the Wursthaus kept me laughing, but Dave's feeble attempt to step into Gretchen's world got me to cringing.

All in all, I have to say that Perrotta leaves us with images that are much more rich than the words with which he creates them. I cringe when reading, but on reflection I enjoy the comedy - and rarely the poignancy - of the situations. Kirkus wrote, "It'll make a terrific movie." It's certainly got all the trappings of a shitty romantic comedy.

Nonetheless, I think I could read another Perrotta book.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Wishbones.
sign in »

No comments have been added yet.