Friday, June 12, 2009

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon [audiobook read by David Colacci]

This is the story of a Grady Tripp, a writer and professor at a Pittsburgh university who, after publishing one highly-lauded novel, now finds himself more than 2,500 pages into his second novel with no end in sight and no direction. Likewise, he floats through this novel, blown around like a pinwheel by characters with more drive (but no more sense) than himself—James Leer, a suicidal writing student who at a party shoots the chancellor’s dog and steals her husband’s prized and priceless Marilynn Monroe jacket, worn by the star on the day she married Joe DiMaggio; Terry Crabtree, his agent, a lover of cross-dressing men, regular-dressing men, and drinking; and Hannah Green, a student who rents a room from Grady and has a crush on him though, in one of his few sensible acts, Grady keeps away. Mix up all these misfits with a bunch of booze and weed, and you get a story that is a lovable mess of slapstick, desperation, complete chaos, and characters that you find yourself liking but constantly shaking your head at.

Chabon is a writer’s writer, and there’s probably nothing he’s more suited for writing about. It’s a joy to hear the sentences he constructs, and the characters and their complicated but believable relationships are great. I hesitated to get this one on audiobook, as I wanted to actually read it, but after hearing a few good reviews, I decided to try listening. David Colacci’s performance is fantastic, and his dry sense of humor fits Chabon’s style perfectly. All around a great collaboration and a sheer joy to listen to.

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