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We've all had those days, haven't we? You know, the ones when nothing quite works out the way it should and everything that could go wrong invariably does?
No matter how bad you think you've had it, spare a thought for poor old Grady Tripp; pot-bellied, pot-smoking English professor at Pittsburgh University for whom a literary event known as WordFest turns into a disaster of epic proportions in author Michael Chabon's brilliant novel, Wonder Boys.
The book, published in 1995 and later adapted to a big screen version staring Michael Douglas and Katie Holmes, focusses on central character Tripp's frustrations with trying to complete a monumental 2000+ page manuscript, all the while dealing with a host of distressing, and sometimes downright bizarre events.
As if finding out that your wife is leaving you, your mistress (whose husband happens to be your boss) is pregnant with your child and that one of your students, who happens to live in your house, is sexually attracted to you, isn't enough to deal with in one weekend, imagine also having to deal with sexually-ambiguous editors, transvestites, dead dogs, stolen Marilyn Monroe memorabilia and deeply troubled students whilst still trying to get your work done.
That's the weird world surrounding Grady Tripp in Wonder Boys, a novel which takes sexuality, relationships and the life of a working writer as its main themes and turns them into a deeply funny, if somewhat far-fetched story.
Some have criticised the book for a seemingly random, rambling plot and characters who seem to have no clear motivation for their actions. They may have point, but in this reviewer's opinion, such points only allow the reader to relate better to the story and its characters. After all, who hasn't done something without thinking about how or why they're doing it at some point?
Speaking of the characters, key figures such as troubled student, James Leer, desperate editor Terry Crabtree and, of course, Tripp himself, are all bold, well-crafted creations from the mind of Chabon, and 'larger-than-life' may be a description too far, the author has done a fantastic job in creating some fascinating, memorable characters.
In terms of style, Chabon's descriptions are vivid, his language intelligent and, for those of you who have seen the film but never read the book, the story of Wonder Boys is much, much funnier in print than it is on film.
This may not be the greatest review I've ever produced, but Wonder Boys is certainly one of the most brilliant books I've ever read, and I can't recommend it enough!