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The Love Song of Jonny Valentineby Teddy Wayne
Synopses & Reviews
When Whiting Writers’ Award winner Teddy Wayne published his critically acclaimed debut, Kapitoil, it was hailed as “one of the best novels of [this] generation” by the Boston Globe and was shortlisted for a spate of national prizes.
Jonathan Franzen wrote in The Daily Beast that “no other writer, as far as I know, has invented such a funny and compelling voice and story for [this type of character.]” Now, in The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, Wayne turns his sharp wit, flawless narrative ventriloquism, and humane sensibility to our monstrous obsession with fame.
Megastar Jonny Valentine, eleven-year-old icon of bubblegum pop, knows that the fans don’t love him for who he is. The talented singer’s image, voice, and even hairdo have been relentlessly packaged — by his L.A. label and his hard-partying manager-mother, Jane — into bite-size pabulum. But within the marketing machine, somewhere, Jonny is still a vulnerable little boy, perplexed by his budding sexuality and his heartthrob status, dependent on Jane, and endlessly searching for his absent father in Internet fan sites, lonely emails, and the crowds of faceless fans.
Poignant, brilliant, and viciously funny, told through the eyes of one of the most unforgettable child narrators, this literary masterpiece explores with devastating insight and empathy the underbelly of success in 21st-century America. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a tour de force by a standout voice of his generation.
"A coming-of-age tale with a modern context, this sharply written novel from the Whiting Writers' Award-winning author of Kapitoil pulls back the curtain on the 21st-century fame machine. Not unlike a certain fever-inducing pop star, tween sensation Jonny Valentine went from YouTube to Madison Square Garden with bubblegum hits like 'Guys vs. Girls' and 'U R Kewt.' Now each decision on his national tour is choreographed for mass appeal, from what team to feature on his baseball hat, to the femme pop star with whom his label stages a date. Along for the ride is his mom Jane, micromanaging his image, scheduling weekly weigh-ins, and generally fending off normalcy to keep a good thing going. But through an intimate first-person characterization masterfully executed by Wayne, we see fame through Jonny's complicated point of view. Beneath the rote catechism of his overmanaged career ('Jane says we're in the business of making fat girls feel like they're pretty for a few hours') are the wholehearted yearnings of a conflicted 11-year-old: his obsession with getting a successful erection, a desire to be like his musical idols, and most of all a quest to reconnect with his father. The smart skewering of the media, both highbrow and low, is wickedly on target. And a mock New Yorker article is a memorable literary lampoon. But the real accomplishment is the unforgettable voice of Jonny. If this impressive novel, both entertaining and tragically insightful, were a song, it would have a Michael Jackson beat with Morrissey lyrics. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Provocative and bittersweet…Jonny is such an engaging, sympathetic character that his voice carries the novel....A very funny novel when it isn't so sad, and vice versa." The Atlantic Wire
"The best — and only — tween-pop novel you'll ever read. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, the second novel from rising star Teddy Wayne, depicts the world of prepackaged pop through the eyes of a precocious 11-year-old tween idol (think Justin Bieber by way of Holden Caulfield)." Interview
"Think an imagined life of a star like Bieber...but so much better; moving and hilarious and typical of Wayne.” Details
"Sad-funny, sometimes cutting...more than a scabrous sendup of American celebrity culture; it’s also a poignant portrait of one young artist’s coming of age." Michiko Kakutani
"A buoyant, smart, searing portrait of our culture's obsession with young pop stars." The New York Times
"Hilarious and heartbreaking....An original, poignant and captivating coming-of-age story...a breathtakingly fresh novel about the dark side of show business." Kirkus (starred review)
“The Love Song of Jonny Valentine takes us deep into the dark arts and even darker heart of mass-market celebrity, twenty-first-century version. In the near-pubescent hitmaker of the title, Teddy Wayne delivers a wild ride through the upper echelons of the entertainment machine as it ingests human beings at one end and spews out dollars at the other. Jonny’s like all the rest of us, he wants to love and be loved, and as this brilliant novel shows, that’s a dangerous way to be when you’re inside the machine.” BookPage, Fiction Top Pick
For fans of A Visit from the Goon Squad and Joyce Carol Oates’s Blonde, a scathing and unputdownable new novel about America’s monstrous obsession with fame, from the winner of a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award.
Megastar Jonny Valentine, eleven-year-old icon of bubblegum-pop, knows that the fans don’t love him for who he is. His image, his voice, and even his hairdo have been packaged — by his LA label and by his hard-partying manager-mother — into bite-size pieces for easy digestion, sliding down the gullet of mass culture, the biggest appeal to the widest demographic. But inside the relentless marketing machine, somewhere, is still a little boy, devoted to his mother and determined to find his absent father among the countless, faceless fans. Isn’t there?
A twisted, brilliant, and viciously funny coming-of-age story set inside corporate arenas and luxury hotel suites, Teddy Wayne’s The Love Song of Jonny Valentine explores with devastating clarity the underbelly of fame in twenty-first century America’s celebrity culture, told through the eyes of one of the most unforgettable child narrators since Holden Caulfield. From the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of Kapitoil, this new novel is a literary masterpiece by one of the standout writers of his generation.
About the Author
Teddy Wayne, the author of Kapitoil, is the winner of a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award and a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award, PEN/Bingham Prize, and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He writes regularly for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. He lives in New York.
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