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Wonder Boys [Kindle Edition]

Michael Chabon
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Chabon’s extraordinary story of one turbulent weekend in the life of a struggling writer, a satire of the permanent adolescence of the creative class

A wildly successful first novel made Grady Tripp a young star, and seven years later he still hasn’t grown up. He’s now a writing professor in Pittsburgh, plummeting through middle age, stuck with an unfinishable manuscript, an estranged wife, a pregnant girlfriend, and a talented but deeply disturbed student named James Leer. During one lost weekend at a writing festival with Leer and debauched editor Terry Crabtree, Tripp must finally confront the wreckage made of his past decisions.
Mordant but humane, Wonder Boys features characters as loveably flawed as any in American fiction.
This ebook features a biography of the author.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mixing comic?even slapstick?events with the serious theme of bright promise gone awry, Chabon has produced an impeccably constructed novel that sparkles with inventiveness and wit neatly permeated with rue. The once-promising eponymous "wonder boys" are Grady Tripp and Terry Crabtree, friends since college, where they both determined to make their mark in literature. Now they are self-destructive adults whose rare meetings occasion an eruption of zany events. Narrator Grady, a professor/novelist whose unfinished work-in-progress, Wonder Boys, stands at 2000-plus endlessly revised pages, has destroyed three marriages through compulsive philandering and a marijuana habit. Terry is a devil-may-care, sexually predatory editor who has patiently endured Grady's writing block but who tells Grady, when he arrives at the annual literary conference at Grady's small Pittsburgh college, that he expects to be fired momentarily from his job. Grady and Terry, later joined by the campus's newest potential "wonder boy," a talented but mendacious student named James Leer, set in motion a series of darkly funny misadventures. Farcical scenes arise credibly out of multiplying contretemps, culminating in a stoned Grady's wild ride in a stolen car in whose trunk rest a tuba and the corpses of a blind dog and a boa constrictor. All of this affords Chabon a solid platform for some freewheeling satire about the yearnings, delusions and foibles of writers and other folk. Throughout, his elegant prose, breathtaking imagery and wickedly on-target dialogue precisely illuminate his characters' gentle absurdities. The pace of this vastly entertaining novel never abates for a second, as we watch Grady slide inexorably into emotional and professional chaos. Above all, though, this is a feast for lovers of writing and books, with the author's fierce understanding of what Grady calls "the midnight disease," the irresistible, destructive urge of a writer to experience his characters' fates. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Chabon himself is something of a wonder boy; his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, presided on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 12 weeks. Here, his eponymous heroes are Grady, an aging author attempting to write his chef-d'oeuvre, and his randy editor, Tripp.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 592 KB
  • Print Length: 388 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1857024052
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (December 20, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006HCU60E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #924 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
101 of 105 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memorable, engaging and honest November 8, 1999
I don't quite understand many of the negative reviewshere. People describe his writing as adolescent or reminescent of a story from a writer's workshop. I was an English major in college and realize that to go after one's dreams in the literary field is not easy, simply because of the quirky characters you get involved with. Chabon is not trying to mold profound statements even close to the same league as Chekov or even Updike, but otherwise he works in the same atmosphere as early Philip Roth. He simply describes characters so easily and with such fruition (without overembellishing them) that we are hooked. "The Wonder Boys" is truly about the the emotional atmosphere of the literary world. Unlike medical or law school - writer's are encouraged to stay young - Grady's problem is that he's forty years old, holding on to youth is killing him. The Wonder Boys is not a light a read as I've heard many label it so. It's truly about that gray line between youth and maturity - and within that line resides hundreds of English majors. I loved it, read and enjoy - definitely not a book for anyone who thinks Nabakov is the beginning and end of the artistic plane.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonder February 15, 2001
By Kev
Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon is an amazing roller coaster tale of a Professor Grady Tripp weekend. The novel is both entertaining and exhilarating yet still retains that Chabon charm that The Mysteries of Pittsburgh left me with. Chabon has a real knack for writing, he creates characters who are both quirky yet somewhat identifiable. Take Grady, a forty something, chronic head, college professor, and one time wonder boy... I felt myself feeling the man's pain. Suddenly I was getting a divorce, losing my job and impregnating my lover. I especially liked James Leer the college student, what a strange little bird! The book is a page-turner that's full of insight. Some may say it is quick read, yet I took my time to savor.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fully Realized Characters August 27, 2001
By A Customer
It is unfortunate to discover a fine novel after seeing it as a fine film. I did not know about Michael Chabon until after seeing Curtis Hanson's film adaptation of Wonder Boys (robbed of a Best Picture nomination), and did not read Wonder Boys until much later, coming across several other Chabon works first. That said, it is hard to know how I would have reacted to Wonder Boys if I did not know the story in advance. Unlike the broader Kavalier and Clay, which is in all a better book, Chabon does not slip into occasional caricature here. Yes, the "doped-up novelist with writer's block" and the "spooky, haunted young genius" are archetypes, but Chabon's Grady Tripp and James Leer come off as original inventions due to Chabon's skill with subtlety. While revealing characters through a road trip is hackneyed, it comes off better in the novel than on the screen. Chabon's uniqueness lies in his combination of the mundane and the bizarre -- well-crafted characters wandering through a strange landscape. Wonder Boys is not the choice for a reader who wants just one Chabon experience -- Mysteries of Pittsburgh is odder and funnier, and Kavalier and Clay is bigger and better. But for a Chabon fan, Wonder Boys is an excellent diversion.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars To fans of Kavalier and Clay January 22, 2003
After having read "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" (AAKC), I swore to myself that I would absolutely adore anything by Michael Chabon. Now, having finished "Wonder Boys", I realize to some degree, how unrealistic that notion was.
I'm not saying that this book is uninspiring or flat. No, not at all. The whole story, about a writer in crisis as he watches his marriage and career go asunder over a weekend of quirky, humorous events, makes for good and entertaining read. Chabon's writing is as masterful as ever, he still splashes the book with candid, deadpan quips that I thoroughly enjoy and am totally jealous of. There were parts I enjoyed to the brink of laughing out loud (usually, I'm a pretty silent reader) - e.g. the Beer Pong scene, with James being slowly acquainted to the universal joys of being drunk.
That said, I simply could not stop myself from wishing more depth to the story. More scenes, more sub-stories from the lives of each character, if you will. Stories spanning different time eras, different backgrounds and histories. You see, the ghost of Kavalier and Clay was lurking somewhere in my stubborn mind (something like the tuba!), unwilling to be exorcised! This is the first book I can honestly say that was spoilt from unrealistic expectations and I regret that. If you want to enjoy this book and you've read AAKC, don't compare the two books. Wonder Boys is essentially the story of one man over a stretch of a weekend, AAKC is more like an epic tale of at least three characters over 50 years. They're really quite different, each with its very own appeal.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful characters February 17, 2002
Tripp is a 40-something university professor and novelist who is having trouble finishing his fourth book: he's seven years and over 2,000 pages into it and he's not even halfway done. His favorite pastimes are getting high, getting drunk, and cheating on his wife, all while battling (and losing) his reflex of running off on wild adventures at the drop of a hat. Terry Crabtree, Tripp's gay editor and old friend, is flamboyant, likes college age boys, and is even more irresponsible with drug and drink.
A satire on the literary life, Wonder Boys is an enjoyable if somewhat cumbersome read. Great characters, all of them on a quest for self-acceptance, but Chabon gets bogged down by his obvious affection for literary description, which, while startingly good, distracts from the action at hand and puts too much space between the character and the reader. The book reads like a series of run-on scenes, rather than a flowing novel, which is probably why it made for a good film.
The relationship between Tripp, the main character, and James, one of his students, is a focal point of the novel. Tripp inadvertedly helps James kill a dog, and then spends the weekend running around with it in his trunk, trying at various times to dispose of it. But the relationship is deeper than its lighthearted treatment. The two of them end up palling around together all weekend, getting drunk and stoned, and finding themselves in over the top situations, which includes scenes with Crabtree, Tripp's wife who has just left him, his wife's very Jewish family, Tripp's lover who is pregnant, a stolen jacket onced owned by Marilyn Monroe, a stolen car, a drag queen, and on and on.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Fantastic read.
Published 25 days ago by Helen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great book (and definitely better than the movie, which was pretty good). Very enjoyable.
Published 28 days ago by kendall wigoda
1.0 out of 5 stars Skim It; Don't Read It
In his wonderful "A Readers's Manifesto," B.R. Myers speculates that postmodernist literature is skimmed over, rather than read. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Book Hawk
5.0 out of 5 stars A rollicking good weekend
It's difficult to imagine that so many major events could occur in the course do a weekend, but this is no ordinary weekend and Chabon is no ordinary writer. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Annemarie Oldfield
4.0 out of 5 stars One Weekend....
Grady Tripp, pothead , college professor and general lothario faces the mother of all weekends. Its the Wordfest; his friend and publisher Crabtree is coming to take a look at... Read more
Published 2 months ago by An admirer of Saul
5.0 out of 5 stars An ongoing wonder
At some point, in every Chabon novel, the beauty of his writing stops me dead in my tracks. If my wife or daughter or random stranger is within earshot, I fight the urge to grab... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it back in college
Read this one while attending ECU and it's the reason I want to be a novelist. I lent my copy out to a woman I thought was hot. Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. Overocker
2.0 out of 5 stars Great writing-dreary subject
This book was recommended to me and it is a page turner. Still, I wasn't happy being engulfed in the college drug scene. If you don't mind that, Chabon is a strong writer.
Published 2 months ago by bkp
3.0 out of 5 stars Academics blundering around stoned and drunk
It's about academics blundering around stoned and drunk. I got about half way through and got tired of the characters who were persistent in their inability to pull themselves... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ktina
3.0 out of 5 stars A good, casual read
I enjoyed this book a lot, but I never found myself getting lost in it's pages. I was able to read a few chapters, put it down, then pick it back up a few days later. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jeffrey L. Schill, Jr.
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More About the Author

Michael Chabon is the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, A Model World, Wonder Boys, Werewolves in Their Youth, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Final Solution, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Maps and Legends, Gentlemen of the Road, and the middle grade book Summerland.

He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children. You can visit Michael online at

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