Sold-out concerts, screaming fans, TV shows, Number Ones. This is the rock and roll dream, and the Wonderkids are living it. But something's wrong. The gigs are sold out, sure, but the halls are packed with little kids - not sexy hipsters. Edward Lear, the Wonderkids' lead singer, songwriter, and resident mad genius Blake Lear has always written lyrics as silly as they are infectious. Rock and roll has always been for the kids, right? This is why Blake has no objection when the band is offered a deal with the devil: The Wonderkids will be rock stars, adored and revered. The catch? Their audience will be children. The band takes America by storm, and things go very right - until they go very wrong.
©2014 Wesley Stace (P)2014 Dreamscape Media, LLC
"Wesley Stace has written one of the very few novels about rock bands and the music business that doesn’t have a single false note or outsider-wannabe pretensions. He deconstructs, with an elegant and sharp eye, the heightened sense of the unreality of fame, the relentless grind of touring, and the Ego and the Id made deliciously manifest in the Wonderkids (my favorite new band). I thought about these characters even when I wasn’t reading the book, and the story will stay with me for a very long time. Wonderkid has both enormous entertainment value and serious literary worth, a very hard trick to pull off.” - Rosanne Cash, author of Composed
“Highly pleasurable. And unusual, not least because this is a rock ’n’ roll novel written by someone who actually knows what he’s talking about.” - Peter Carey, author of The Chemistry of Tears
“Rock ’n’ roll is an infantile business, but never more so than in the hands of the Wonderkids, a group of post-teens, playing music for pre-teens, whilst living chaotic adult lives. In Wonderkid, Wesley Stace absolutely captures the band experience: the triumphs, the letdowns, the sell-outs, the success, and the scandal, with an extra helping of absurdity. There were times reading this book that I could actually smell the dank dressing rooms, or feel the bus rolling down the highway to the next gig.” - Peter Buck
“Finally, a sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll book for Dan Zanes fans! Wonderkid also happens to be one of the best books about fathers and sons since Turgenev.” - Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure
“I can’t believe that this amazing book exists. Wonderkid is by far the best music novel I’ve ever read, and the most unexpectedly wild ride I’ve ever been on. Every detail is perfect. Do you want to read about the music business? Family dynamics? Children’s entertainment? The often uneasy relationship between the US and the UK? The creative process? This book lays it all out with love and wild imagination. Wonderkid is uplifting, inspiring, unhinged, and unpredictable, just like rock ’n’ roll itself.” - Dan Zanes
“Wesley Stace’s Wonderkid is a marvelous satiric mashup of rock ’n’ roll and pack ’n’ plays. It’s sweet and funny and knowing - and this is me, holding up my lighter for more.” - Joshua Ferris, author of The Unnamed
“At turns illuminating and heartbreaking - but always funny – Wonderkid is A Visit from the Goon Squad for the kiddie music world. A pitch-perfect excavation into the lighter heart of the music industry.” - Colin Meloy
“Wonderkid is a gem, a rock ’n’ roll novel written from the inside, with an insider’s knowledge of music and the music business, and all the exhilaration and indignities that come with the territory. Wesley Stace is a wise and witty guide to the career of Blake Lear and the Wonderkids, a fictional band that becomes so real over the course of the novel that you’ll think you heard them on the radio.” - Tom Perrotta, author of Nine Inches
“Wesley Stace writes with verve, pace, and great good humor. Wonderkid is a flamboyant novel about rock ’n’ roll, sex and drugs, broken dreams, and Brits on tour in America. Buy it at once.” - Patrick McGrath, author of Constance
“A perfectly pitched coming-of-age novel that’s as playful and provocative as rock music itself... Stace brings the road alive with exquisitely authentic details... The familiarity is entirely engaging, and it’s likely that you’ll worry about the band’s trajectory, the looming loss of innocence, and probably the fate of rock music. Stace doesn’t take things in the usual direction, though, so don’t give up on these guys. In the end, they prove that the spirit of rock and roll might grow up a bit, but, indeed, it never dies.” - ForeWord Reviews
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Every month you can find me at the City Winery for Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders, a variety show featuring musicians (himself included, having recorded as John Wesley Harding), authors reading from their work (last month he had Salman Rushdie), and stand-up comedy (usually Eugene Mirman from Bob's Burgers). So I was already familiar with -- and very much a fan of -- Stace's distinctive voice, sense of humor, and encyclopedic knowledge of rock music, from the well known to the most obscure of the obscure (he actually knows Stackridge, although he has an advantage there as a native Englishman).
So I am a ready-made audience for his only audiobook (of his four novels), Wonderkid, a rock novel about the rise and fall of a band that targets toddlers, despite never setting out to write music for kids. Stace has a voice that would be welcome as narrator of any audiobook -- his near-perfect enunciation (except R's), his Michael Palin-esque inflections, his natural exuberance. But reading his own work makes it doubly good, since he knows exactly how he wants it to sound. And so the comic vignettes stitched together to make up the story of The Wonderkids and their leader, Blake Lear, are an entertaining listen.
The rock references are legion. Stace's send-up of the music industry clicks on all cylinders. His characters are engaging (although crafted more for comedy than characterization, notwithstanding the focus on Blake over the last couple of hours). But the story is not fully cohesive. Nevertheless, this is a barrel of fun, especially if you like rock music (that may even be a prerequisite to properly enjoy this book). Stace should not only get his other novels into audio format , he should instruct his agent to get him gigs reading other people's books. And Audible should get Wesley Stace's Cabinet of Wonders onto Channels.
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