by Teddy Wayne 5 Feb 2013
Publisher: Free Press
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.
When Whiting Writers' Award winner Teddy Wayne published his critically acclaimed debut, Kapitoil, it was hailed as "one of the best novels of my generation" by the The Boston Globe, shortlisted for a spate of national prizes, and landed on numerous best-of lists for 2010. 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 an equally memorable hero and a topic at the dark heart of America's modern identity: our monstrous obsession with fame.
Megastar Jonny Valentine, eleven-year-old icon of bubblegum pop, knows deep down 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, sliding down the gullet of mass culture. But inside 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 the father who abandoned him, in Internet fan sites, lonely emails, and the crowds of countless, faceless fans.
Set inside the corporate arenas and luxury hotel suites of the prepubescent crooner's Valentine Days cross-country tour, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine offers a slyly scathing indictment of celebrity and consumer culture, and the ways each of us is complicit in Jonny's world. Trapped in a prison he's been told is paradise, Jonny seems to embody everything that's wrong with our society - but he is both its cause and its victim.
Poignant, brilliant, and viciously funny, told through the eyes of one of the most unforgettable child narrators since Holden Caulfield, this literary masterpiece explores with devastating insight and empathy the underbelly of success in twenty-first-century America. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a tour de force by a standout voice of his generation.
"I'm at a loss as to why this isn't a YA book. The narrator is 11 years old, and in that way, it's spot on. I mean, perfect. I would have loved this book if I was 13 and was growing up on the Internet. If it was a satire (which I think the author might actually think it is), I'd be all over it, but it's not. Weirdly, it's earnest in a way that's bewildering."
"Starred Review. If this impressive novel, both entertaining and tragically insightful, were a song, it would have a Michael Jackson beat with Morrissey lyrics." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. A provocative and bittersweet illumination of celebrity from the perspective of an 11-year-old pop sensation ... A very funny novel when it isn't so sad, and vice versa." - Kirkus
"Wayne's second novel is both a cautionary tale and an insider's look at some ofthe less salutary aspects ofthe music industry. Pop-music aficionados will be delighted." - Booklist
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.