Tom Perrotta's first novel, The Wishbones
, is all about that much-maligned class of 30-ish men who still live at home with their parents, guys who make furtive love to their girlfriends--if they have them at all--in the basement rec room or the back seat of a car. But Dave Raymond, the protagonist of The Wishbones
, doesn't waste his time on Star Trek
reruns or computer games; he spends his weekends playing in a wedding band called The Wishbones, using the rapidly receding dream of rock stardom as an excuse to put off growing up. The sudden death of a fellow musician sends Dave into something of a tailspin, however, and in a moment of weakness, he proposes to his longtime girlfriend, Julie. The engagement has hardly been announced when Dave meets Gretchen, a bridesmaid at one of the weddings at which The Wishbones play, and before long he's having serious doubts about his own marital plans.
Everybody knows someone like Dave, but a real-life puer aeternus is rarely as entertaining as Perrotta's fictional one. Perrotta wisely surrounds his sad-sack protagonist with an array of entertaining supporting characters, from a joint-smoking priest to one of Dave's band-mates whose life work is a musical based on Kennedy's assassination. By the time The Wishbones winds down to its well-deserved end, readers will be wishing for a second novel from Tom Perrotta soon.
From Library Journal
Dave works as a courier during the week, but his real passion is playing guitar on weekends with a pretty good New Jersey wedding band. They play in places that sport "the unmistakable odor of mediocrity." Their repertoire includes "a ten-minute medley [of] 'I Will Survive,' 'Boogie-Oogie-Oogie'...capped by a full-length version of 'Y.M.C.A.,' a song that had returned with a vengeance from the land of musical oblivion." For 15 years, Dave has drifted through an on-and-off relationship with the same girl, Julie. Then one night he witnesses the on-stage death of an older lead singer with another band. Shaken, he returns home and without blinking says to Julie, "Let's get married." Then panic sets in. He gets involved with a sexy bohemian poet even as Julie begs him to give up the band, something he had never even remotely considered. At times hilariously funny, at others times wonderfully lyrical, and filled with subtle as well as obvious pleasures, this is an awfully good novel about a young man's reluctance to grow up. Perrotta has published a book of short stories, Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies (LJ 4/15/94). Highly recommended.?David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus
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