It was with much anticipation and trepidation that I approached Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys. Michael Chabon is one of my favorite writers and Wonder Boys is one of my favorite movies. I figured something had to give. There was no way the movie and book could be equals.
I was right. I enjoyed the movie much more than the book making two movies I've seen that are better than the book, the other being Fight Club.
The book Wonder Boys is still very good and still very Chabonesque. It doesn't have the cornucopia of word-of-the-day words that his later novels have. Still very detailed and descriptive. There were a bunch of things that rubbed me the wrong way, though.
One thing I didn't like was the snookumy nicknames the main character Grady uses for his mistress Sara. "Monkey"? "My girl" as in "What's wrong, my girl?". I can understand wanting to use them as it makes the characters a little more human but they just read strangely to me. Nicknames like that that tend to be because of the relationship between two people. They're shared between the pair, not outsiders and so I guess that's why they feel odd to me in the book.
In the movie there is a comment on how in Grady's book it doesn't seem like he makes choices, that everything is in the book and nothing got cut out. Chabon's book feels that way. The whole Jewish holiday with the in-laws section just drags the book on and on and really adds nothing to the story. Not surprisingly, in the movie it is entirely omitted. Grady's wife doesn't even make an appearance in the movie. Rightfully so.
Otherwise, the book is really good. It was a little tough for me because I think the casting for the movie was excellent but the descriptions of the characters in the book don't match the folks who played them in the movie. That's not a flaw in the book. It was just tough picturing Grady as someone built like me and not Michael Douglas or Hannah as a blonde instead of Katie Holmes.
If I weren't such a fan of the movie, I'd probably be gushing over this like I have other Chabon books. It's still a good book and if you haven't read it or seen the movie, you can't go wrong with either.