• Cole Haddon

The Book That Changed My Life: Michael Chabon's WONDER BOYS

Books have provided me a route to knowledge and a constant escape, and it boggles my mind that my debut novel PSALMS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, released later this year, might one day help do the same for others.


Here’s a story about the book that most changed my life: Michael Chabon's WONDER BOYS.


Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys, novels, writing, authors

Mine is certainly not a thrilling story in the traditional sense, as much of Chabon’s work is. However, it’s a story with human stakes, such as WONDER BOYS, a novel about a lost boy-man like James Leer in need of a mentor a la Grady Tripp.

Enter, Michael Chabon. (I mean, not literally.)


Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Moonglow, Telegraph Avenue

WONDER BOYS weaves a story about a creative writing professor who is afflicted by a kind of paralysis, embodied by an inability to finish a novel, but also an inability to leave an unhappy marriage for the woman he really loves. During a literary fest weekend, Tripp takes under his wing a troubled student of his, James Leer, who is equally lost.

I bought WONDER BOYS at a point in my life that was the result of half a decade of slipping in and out of college, couch-hopping across the US in search of something I never found, and filling countless floppy disks with short stories, novels, and screenplays that went nowhere. In fact, I recently looked at this computer file. There appear to be as many words inside it as I have written in all the years since.

In short: I was completely lost.

But somewhere in the act of reading WONDER BOYS and its characters' search for direction, enlightenment arrived for me. By the time I clapped the book shut, it had stripped me of any excuses I still used to not trade my working-class youth for the arts.

One week later, I applied to the University of Michigan. Soon, I found myself in creative writing classes exactly like the one Chabon had depicted in WONDER BOYS. I didn't necessarily learn how to write in these classes, but I did learn how to seek out and find my own voice.

More than two decades later, I have had screenplays produced, short stories and journalism published, and, come 1st September, my first novel PSALMS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD will hit shelves. All because of a single book. Without WONDER BOYS. I would’ve probably ended up an accountant or office manager or something similar that would have been, for me, like a prison.

Books change lives. They sometimes save them, too. They did mine.


Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Moonglow, Telegraph Avenue
Michael Chabon's place on my bookshelf, which has only grown over the past two decades.

If you want to read more about my novel PSALMS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, visit the homepage of this website. If you'd like to pre-order it, click here or on the image below.


Psalms for the End of the World, literary fiction, speculative fiction, science fiction, new fiction, Headline Publishing Group, Hachette Australia, Australian author

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