Wonderland Hardcover – May 6, 2014
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"Ingeniously conceived and believable… D’Erasmo is a gifted and skillful writer."
—Lionel Shriver, The New York Times Book Review
"Stacey D'Erasmo's exquisite Wonderland...succeeds, not through bombast but with beautifully measured, understated writing and meticulous characterization...Wonderland's narrator, Anna Brundage, is so beautifully realized that I wanted to download her music on iTunes... a striking evocation of the artist's quest"
—Elizabeth Hand, Los Angeles Times
"Briskly addictive. . . Some sentences dance like wind chimes in a hurricane; others evanesce. . . D'Erasmo expertly conjures the seductive uncharted space that lures the sculptor, the musician..."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
"An exceptionally well-written novel... I read Wonderland and saw that D’Erasmo wanted to write about what it means to devote your life to your art too, but she kept that the focus of the entire novel, and it makes for a razor-sharp, unsparing book. She captures both the joys and the terror, the grind and the exaltation."
—Emily St.John Mandel, The Millions, "A Year in Reading"
"Dreamy... [with] finely tuned prose… Given the book's sensual imagery and magnetic heroine, it's hard not to wonder what Anna would sound like—I pegged her as some combination of Björk, Florence and the Machine, and Janis Joplin."
“Her story reads like an unusually lucid travel journal...In Brundage, D’Erasmo has created a wry, questioning, sensual artist.”
—The New Yorker
“heartbreakingly intense…[a] dramatically satisfying, philosophically complex novel.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
"D'Erasmo's writing exhibits a life-and-death intimacy that grabs at us"
"[A] questing, questioning, melodic narrative…Sentence by sentence, Stacey D’Erasmo is a gorgeous writer...[with] a vibrant, idiosyncratic voice"
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“the prose constantly achieves the magic trick of seeming both weightless and grounded...an evocative exploration of universal themes: the anxieties of middle age, the bittersweet freedom of the creative life, the burden of the legacy a daughter inherits from her father.”
"A cool, dreamy read, by turns drug-fueled, anxious, touched by grief, blistering with the heat of survival instinct…delicious"
—Black Heart Magazine
"D’Erasmo gives us an inside look at a world most of us will never experience. As Anna strives for perfection in her music, you get the feeling she might just make it."
"[WONDERLAND] delicately melts together a captivating story, artistic language and meaningful imagery."
“As Robert Mapplethorpe told Patti Smith, this one, Wonderland has the magic.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books
"A must read for any up and coming artist to grizzled veteran."
“[D’Erasmo] combines the delightful worlds of literature and music while bringing out the best in both mediums…a rich and exquisitely crafted novel.”
"A spellbinding look into the protagonist’s being... meticulously crafted ... Days and shows pass, but within this routine, a transformation slowly creeps into the narrative: that of commitment, and, perhaps, hope for the future."
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
"Anna is an irresistible narrator. D’Erasmo brings us inside the music and the musician’s psyche in this transfixing song of a self evolving through discovery, loss, and renewal."
— Booklist, STARRED
"[D’Erasmo writes] artfully and insightfully, giving Brundage a no-nonsense, road-worn tone that leaves equal room for pathos and humor... D’Erasmo is particularly good at capturing the randomness and joy of the creative process.. thoughtfully addresses aging, art and relationships."
"Like Anna, her unforgettable narrator, Stacey D'Erasmo has found a new sound here: a voice so gorgeous and raw that it captures what it means to be human. D'Erasmo's prose is lyrical and alive—this is a vital, powerful novel—and Wonderland will strike a chord with anyone who's ever dreamed of getting a second chance."
—Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them
"There's a lot in this book that those of us who've lived the music life will recognize: the eroticized grind of life on the road; the hothouse environment of the recording studio; the weird state of in-between that defines provisional rock and roll fame. But what's best about Wonderland is its portrait of a creative spirit. When Anna Brundage is in the zone, she pulls songs from the air; she showers her fans and collaborators in pain and beauty. Wonderland's insight into how a woman inhabits, feeds, and sometimes undoes her own artistry is rare and profound."
—Ann Powers, music critic, co-author of Piece by Piece (with Tori Amos), and author of Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America
"The world of Wonderland is authentic, vibrant, and genuine. Stacey D’Erasmo explores the delight and terror of second chances. A great read!"
"Wonderland is a witty and unflinching novel about life, love, art and sound checks. A deep howl and a bittersweet song, this is D'Erasmo's best yet."
—Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask, Home Land, and others
- Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 6, 2014)
- Language: : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0544074815
- ISBN-13 : 978-0544074811
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.97 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,254,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In narrative shifting in time, Anna returns from that place where, "once you step away, you will always be at least a breath behind." Anna revisits her childhood as the daughter of a famous artist and through the experiences of success and then failure. After all, "Fans don't want to hear the song the first time. They want to hear it again." This character delivers the depth and the surface of a life on the road, delivering her soul into the air. I feel that I will now take a second thought before dismissing a performer as a had been. While I have always had a soft spot for the come back, the novel puts the struggle into real terms that the press has missed. This book is a surprise to me with its clarity and the deft touch of imagery. I recommend it.
Top reviews from other countries
At no point did I 'care'. Anna is a rock star. She has great talent but has only once been a commercial success. She is on what may be her last tour. She has, and has had, numerous 'amours' but no steady partner. She is not where most people would want to be in their mid-forties. We should be concerned, but I, for one, was not.
This is not a conventional novel. It seems to have no beginning and the end is ambiguous. It does not follow a straight time line. None of this bothered me but it might have been a better book if it had followed the conventions.
The writing is at times stunningly rich but that is not always appropriate: at times it is just authorial indulgence. In fact the entire book is overwritten, with some opaque passages (and at least one very silly one).
There is a lot of sex. Mainly it is detailed - another authorial indulgence.
What is good are the passages about touring, about singing when it goes well and when it fails, about the personal dynamics of a touring group, and about the tenuousness of their existence.
The whole is a might-have-been. It might have been a very good novel indeed.
What is beautiful about this rock'n'roll novel is that it shows you the gritty, uncertain side of the pop-rock world in poetic accuracy. Anna is a former rock star, trying one last time in her early forties to make a go of it with her new release Wonderland. We travel back and forth in time, to when she was an inspirational something and to now on a failure of a tour. At least, it feels like a failure, but is it? We never know. There is much booze, drugs, struggles to create a sound, to find an audience, to be something special. But are you there yet?
Along the way, Anna and her band bump into the big rock stars of this parallel rock-pop world including Ezra, who is crumbling, damaged goods that shines with a special light. There is BillyQ, a zen master of concentration. We are shown the backside of the festivals, full of bands who are all broken, breaking, glowing. At a festival in Latvia they are hit with monsoon-like rains. The image of the catering tent full of guitars and flutes and harps, all being wiped dry and cared for as if they were injured in a war, is one I will not soon forget.
And yet, there is something quite irritating about this book, as well. You're never sure where you are in the story or where you're heading. It is a stunning, flowing ride, but the landmarks aren't there. I read the book on the kindle, last night arrived at the last page, hit next and was surprised to get the acknowledgements.
I enjoyed the story of her parents, artists who travel the world, her father the conceptual artist who cuts things in half. And yet, from a storytelling point of view, Anna's background was so artfully mighty, I found it tough to have much sympathy for her. She was given so much and she could never burnish it bright enough. Why not? What was missing? Luck or something else? Or did she in the end find something satisfying? Or did she end up with Simon? Hrm.
Although the rhythms in the book change with the poetry, the voice has a cadence that was too pat for me. This gives the book its grey, steady tone. The main character is never elated, never truly devastated, she is under the water looking up at the wake of the surface, reaching out to touch it but never disturbed by it.
It is a thoughtful book, a brave book, a reading for a writer. Plot is secondary, pace consistent. Great for a rainy day, but not for those who want a clear or traditional tale.