Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review: "The Wishbones" by Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta is a writer I have admired for a while, and with the success of the TV show based on his novel The Leftovers and a few successful movie adaptions, I’m surprised he isn’t more of a household name. His stories are universal, and can be read with the intellectual and emotional acuity of an academic and enjoyed for their drama by someone needing a book to read on vacation. He is hard to label and pigeonhole, and his books are read by a wide variety of people, so maybe that is the reason he’s not a superstar. All of his books have similar themes, but set themselves apart from one another in settings, and, judging from this, his first novel, The Wishbones, in maturity. It’s as funny as all of his others, maybe the funniest, but it lacks the urgency of his best books, like Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher. The plot is simple and is the kind of youthful naiveté you’d expect from a first novel. It follows Dave Raymond, a guitar player for The Wishbones, a local rock band who make a healthy living playing at weddings. He still lives at home at 31, and has been dating his girlfriend Julie for 15 years. After he watches the lead singer of another band die of a heart attack, he proposes to her on a whim, an act which not only threatens his place in the band, but might unravel his cozy contented existence. Perrotta uses the framework of the band to tell many different stories concerning things like infidelity, failed potential and the small joys of hanging out with friends. There are a poor sentences or a poor character once in a while, such as the Gretchen, the woman Dave has an affair with, who comes off rather paper thin, but this book is pure fun, and shows the promise Tom Perrotta would deliver on in the following years. 
Rating: 4/5

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