Thursday, May 3, 2012

[Books] Wonder Boys

Since this is my blog, I can talk about whatever I want, right? Right. So every now and again I'll talk about books. Because I love books. I love to read. My reading does tend to go in cycles, blowing through more than one book some weeks and taking an entire month to get through others (I've yet to determine how much what I'm reading plays into that. Overall it evens out).

I've set forth a challenge for myself this year, to read 55 books in 2012. In 2011, I missed my goal of 50 by 1 book. So this year, I added a few to make the goal a bit more of a stretch. I'm really behind at this point - by 6 books or so. I use the site Good Reads to track what I've read and what I'm reading. You can find me here.

The last book I completed was Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. I picked this book because a) I lived in Pittsburgh for many years and Chabon spent a good part of his life living there, and he writes about it in many of his books, and b) it was made into a movie I have yet to see but is on my list to see, and I really love reading books before the movies made from them.

I started Wonder Boys at the beginning of April. It took me an entire month to finish.

A month.


This never happens to me.

I'm not entirely sure it was totally the book; I had a busy April. But still. I can't remember the last time it took me a month to read a book. It almost never happens. And the book itself has to be part of the reason. I mean, if it had been one of the Hunger Games books or the Southern Vampire novels, I wouldn't have taken the entire month of April to finish. So why did it take that long?

I blame the writing style. Wonder Boys was part Hunter S. Thompson and part Jack Kerouac. Only Chabon didn't do druggies as enticingly as Thompson, and did rambling as poorly as Kerouac. I don't know about you, but I loved Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and hated On the Road.

Wonder Boys

Wonder Boys is a drug addled view of the messiest weekend in a struggling author's life. I found Grady Tripp to be immature, annoying, and wallowing in his own misery. He's constantly looking for the next drug fix, forgetting things, making illicit deals and having illicit affairs, and generally making a giant mess of his life. This can make for an interesting story line, if presented well. I found the rambling, train-of-thought, uber-descriptive style of writing immensely annoying. I wanted to smack Tripp upside the head and shout "get it together, man!!". The story is a rambling stream of consciousness through an eventful trip (or weekend) that keeps going more and more horribly wrong. Just like Fear and Loathing, but with way more boring details and a way less interesting main character. Just like On the Road with just as boring a narrator and just as rambling. 

On the whole, I wouldn't recommend this book. The writing style was not for me. The plot was not for me. I can see how some literary folk call this book critically acclaimed, but it's just not my cup of tea.

Next up, I'm reading What Alice Forget by Liane Moriarty for my book club. Look for that review coming soon!


  1. Hi Jamie - thanks for swinging by my blog and commenting! I was reading your "about me" and we have something in common - although I only lived in the Northeast for a couple years, I definitely identify with that part of the country more than any other. I'm in the desert now and just can't make the switch psychologically. Congrats on getting so much reading in! I'm in grad school and rarely get to read material of my choosing, but that summer blew through about 10 books in a week-long vacation at the beach. I think I'll skip "Wonder Boys" based on your description, but will keep my eyes peeled for other book reviews of yours!

    1. Thanks for coming by! I'm also having a hard time mentally with the switch, even after 5 years down south. Every summer I feel like I belong outdoors but then I step outside into 100 degree+ temps and immediately know that it's not the right time of year.


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