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Wonderkidby Wesley Stace
Rambunctious, witty, and at times quite moving, Wesley Stace's fourth novel chronicles the rise and fall (and otherwise) of the Wonderkids, a ragtag group of rock 'n' rollers who find themselves unwitting pioneers of a new genre: rock music for kids. Based on the synopsis alone, I knew I was in for a fun read, but I was pleasantly surprised at the emotional heft of it, and even more so by its ability to surprise me. By the last page, I found myself pining for a band that never was.
Synopses & Reviews
Sold-out concerts, screaming fans, TV shows, Number Ones. This is the rock and roll dream, and the Wonderkids are living it. But something's wrong. The gigs are sold out, sure, but the halls are packed with little kids — not sexy hipsters. And that screaming? It sounds more wailing, actually. The TV appearances are PBS on Saturday morning, rather than Saturday Night Live, and as for Number Ones... you don't want to know.
Exposed in his impressionable youth to the absurdist literature of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, the Wonderkids lead singer, songwriter, and resident mad genius Blake Lear has always written lyrics as silly as they are infectious. Why make sense, he says, when nonsense is so much more fun? Rock and roll has always been for the kids, right?
This is why Blake has no objection when the band is offered a deal with the devil: the Wonderkids will be rock stars, adored and revered. The catch? Their audience will be children. They will be a kindie” band avant la lettre, before the Wiggles and Dan Zanes were a twinkle in Raffi's eye. The band takes America by storm, and things go very right — until they go very wrong. The temptations of the road are many, and the Wonderkids are big kids, too.
Narrated by Sweet, a boy Blake adopts on a whim, who becomes the band's disciple, merch guy, amateur psychologist, and — eventually — damage control guru, Wonderkid is a delirious and surprisingly touching novel of the dangers of compromise, thwarted ambition, and fathers and sons, told with tremendous humor and energy by Wesley Stace — the rare writer who is as comfortable inside a rock club as he is inside a bookstore. A backstage epic of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but also sippy cups, pillow fights, and Baby Bjorns, this is Almost Famous through the looking glass.
"Highly pleasurable. And unusual, not least because this is a rock and roll novel written by someone who actually knows what he's talking about." Peter Carey
"Wonderkid is a gem, a rock and roll novel written from the inside, with an insider's knowledge of music and the music business, and all the exhilaration and indignities that come with the territory. Wesley Stace is a wise and witty guide to the career of Blake Lear and the Wonderkids, a fictional band that becomes so real over the course of the novel that you'll think you heard them on the radio." Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children
"Wesley Stace has always been the only genuinely gifted fiction writer who also happens to be a rock star, but Wonderkid is the book he was born to write. And if you prefer your novels brazen, poignant and hilarious, as I do, you were born to read it. Like a great show, this will stay with you long after the last cymbal crash and power strum." Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask
"Finally, a sex, drugs and rock and roll book for Dan Zane's fans! Wonderkid also happens to be one of the best books about fathers and sons since Turgenev." Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
About the Author
Wesley Stace is the author of three widely acclaimed novels: Misfortune, selected by the Washington Post and Amazon as one of the best novels of the year; By George, one of the New York Public Library's 2007 Books To Remember; and Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer, one of the Wall Street Journals best fiction books of 2011. He has released fifteen albums under the name John Wesley Harding and has appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He is the founder of the Cabinet of Wonders variety show, which has featured appearances by Rosanne Cash, Colson Whitehead, and Joshua Ferris, among many others, and which can be heard on NPR. He contributes frequently to the New York Times and lives in Philadelphia.
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