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Publisher's Summary

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.

©1995 Michael Chabon (P)1995 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • cristina
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 10-10-14

Such a fun ride

I listened to this book over a weekend, which is roughly the timeframe of the story...so I felt that I had spent those days with the characters. Laugh-out-loud funny and tragic at the same time, with the most preposterous things happening but told in a way that makes them make total sense. "OF COURSE, he takes the dead dog along!" Highly enjoyable. Very human. Very well done.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Good listening albeit rather slow

Great story and good narration. I think the narrator style and the story is a good match, even though I find the reading is a little slow for me (so I sped it up to 1.25x). It also took me a while to get used to the narrator's nasal sound. Overall, it's an enjoyable audiobook.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 03-09-14

A strong, early Chabon (sounds like grading wine)

It has all the things that I love about Michael Chabon: the quirky characters, the beautiful filigreed prose, the androgenous and ambiguous lovers. But, it also contains more warmth and crazy energy than some of his later books. And I appreciate that. I appreciate the feeling that this book ran past Chabon's careful editing. Its kinetic narrative isn't about to be slowed by careful massaging. To Hell with all that. In someways it feels a bit like the Pastoral Wanderings of Don Quixote (just replace Rocinante and Sancho Panza with a dead dog and a tuba). IT also at times feels like a Greek New Comedy with the chorus singing through the vortex ring of Afghan Indica pot smoke. So yeah, I liked it good enough.

21 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Aaron
  • United States
  • 04-16-16

A Writer's Book, But Not Just

This is a well-written story about an author who can't let go of his self-deceptions, but finds in a student of his, the feverish machinations that lead him in his youth. The pacing is perfect as the writer, along with his student and his editor, creates chaos in his and in the lives of those around him as he tries to finish the book he's put seven years of his life into.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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good performance, story feels cliche

If you could sum up Wonder Boys in three words, what would they be?

writing, failure, redemption

What was one of the most memorable moments of Wonder Boys?

the dinner with the jewish in-laws

Which character – as performed by David Colacci – was your favorite?

no idea

If you could rename Wonder Boys, what would you call it?

writing about what the author knows

Any additional comments?

Okay book...but Chabon is a writer's writer...heavy handed, solipsistic, and very literary. If you prefer brevity and books not about the incestuous faculty crowd at universities (of which, Warren's "A Place To Come To" is the best), then skip it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • LouBird
  • Arlington, VA USA
  • 09-16-14

Really 3 1/2 stars

The writing is excellent but the characters are so self centered, addictive and unproductive the plot becomes rather depressing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Dubi
  • New York, NY
  • 11-19-16

Boy Wonder

Grady Tripp is struggling to finish the multi-thousand page novel he's worked on for seven years when a) his wife leaves, b) his lover says she's pregnant, c) his agent rejects his book, and most importantly, d) one of his students, a morose, aloof enigma of an aspiring writer, attaches himself and starts a whole lot of trouble.

Along the way, Tripp is bitten by a dog, has to dispose of the body when the kid shoots the dog, has his stolen car stolen back, gets stuck with Marilyn Monroe's fur coat that the kid has stolen, loses the only copy of his manuscript to the wind, has fainting spells, is whacked in the head by Joe DiMaggio's baseball bat, and ... what else? Oh, he has to decide between saving his marriage or raising a child with his lover.

Did I mention this is a comedy?

I hated Michael Chabon's Kavalier & Klay, despite its Pulitzer Prize. Reading reviews here and on another site, Chabon is definitely a love or hate kind of writer. Depends on how a particular book rubs you. K&K never sat right with me from the start with its bloated prose and unedited meandering. Wonder Boys, published earlier, is nice straightforward writing, concise and compact, easy and engaging.

For me, the subject matter strikes a sympathetic chord. This is a book about writers, about the process of writing, about the psychology of writing. On a broader level, it's about identity -- who you are, who you want to be, who you portray yourself to be. There is excellent use of metaphor here, and unlike K&K, Chabon lets the metaphor speak of itself rather than writer-splaining it to you.

So I liked this one. It helped that I liked the movie, which is extremely faithful (other than omitting a long Passover sequence with Tripp's in-laws and its Hollywood ending). I have to (sadly) deduct a star from the otherwise excellent narration because of the movie -- David Colacci reads Tripp's first-person voice differently than Michael Douglas, neither better or worse, but Tobey Maguire's portrayal of the student is so good, so deadpan, that Colacci's pales (through no fault of his own).

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Not Worth My Time

Would you try another book from Michael Chabon and/or David Colacci?

Yes. I've wanted to read Kaviler and Clay for sometime, and Michael Chabon has written a few others I'd like to read as well.

What was most disappointing about Michael Chabon’s story?

It is rare for me to not finish a book, but after 7 chapters I simply didn't care enough to do so. I was mildly curious about the plot, and interested in a few of the characters, but nothing gripped me. I'm not someone who requires an immediate hook, either. Once this book felt like a chore, I finally accepted I just needed to walk away from it. <br/><br/>I double-checked the reviews, looked at the good ones and the bad ones, and I still couldn't find anything compelling enough to pick it back up again. So I'm calling it. It might be good. I might suddenly decide to come back to it again in the future. ...but I don't think it's likely. It's not going anywhere, though. Life's short, and I have a mountain of books I really do want to read. So I think I'll go do that and leave this one for someone else.

Would you listen to another book narrated by David Colacci?

Yes. I think he did a fine job. He wasn't particularly interesting or compelling to listen to, but he certainly didn't do a bad job either. He was middle-of-the-road. Not grating. Definitely more of a "reader" than an "actor" but that's okay.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • gail
  • Plainfield, VT, United States
  • 08-29-17

I couldn't finish this

I think it is supposed to be amusing, but the reader's noirish lugubrious narration made it seem that the characters were lurching from one sad catastrophe to another. I'd always heard this was a good book and I have enjoyed other Chabon fiction, so I have to think it was the reader that dragged it down.

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The Worst Audiobook I've ever listened to

Would you try another book from Michael Chabon and/or David Colacci?

No

What could Michael Chabon have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Made the characters more likable, less sardonic and created a plot.

How could the performance have been better?

The performer has a droning, depressed tone, very unpleasant

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Wonder Boys?

Too many to record.

Any additional comments?

I would not recommend this book at all. It was a waste of my money. Depressing and it didn't really go anywhere.

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  • Anthony
  • 01-18-17

Writers and writing - an entertaining romp!

Engaging story focused on three interconnected characters - the author, the editor, and the student... All takes place around a university-based WriteFest with a range of twists and turns around writing, substance abuse, lies and truth-telling.

Chabon has a wonderful turn of phrase and this comedic novel has much to recommend it. Certainly was a great holiday read when you want to get distracted from those day to day concerns...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-17-17

Had to read this book for Uni paper

And was pleasantly surprised. The Wonder Boys is not a book I would normally read. The language is colourful and descriptive, the narrative flows and I like the repetition of themes throughout the book