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Wonder Boys: A Novel Paperback – December 15, 1995
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Although I didn't pick up on it at first (a bad sign), WONDER BOYS is a comic novel. Though I have not seen the film, I imagine that the visual humor works better in that medium than it does in book form. That is, the narrative gets in its own way too often as Chabon's occasional forays into wordiness trips up any pithy punchlines. For sidekicks, we have all of the women in Grady's life, his equally-lecherous gay editor/friend named Crabtree, and a young student named James who wants to be a writer and winds up being Crabtree's prey. There's also a brief interlude in the country where Tripp follows his wife, Emily, to her country home for a seder to celebrate Passover. Her family is interesting, but not on stage long enough to salvage the general debauchery that follows Tripp on his various perambulations.
The book offers some bright spots but is ultimately disappointing. This story has been done to death by too many writers who, like Chabon, are the products of colleges, and the only one done well is Thomas Williams' brilliant but forgotten THE HAIR OF HAROLD ROUX. Still, I have to credit the book for one thing. It's made me curious about the movie. And something tells me it will be one of the few instances where I might find the film superior to the book.