cover image The Wishbones

The Wishbones

Tom Perrotta, Tom Perotta. Putnam Publishing Group, $22.95 (290pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14267-3

What makes this late coming-of-age novel original and fresh is the arch, incisive humor and pop-music riffs that Perrotta adds to an old story: man proposes to one woman, then promptly falls in love with another. Dave Raymond is guitarist for the Wishbones, a fivesome that plays weddings. Backup for the band and the plot are provided by a cast of memorable characters: no-nonsense manager and saxophonist Artie; suburbs-trapped bass-player Buzzy, who works quality control in prostheses; newly married and cuckolded drummer Stan; and singer/keyboardist Ian, who lives with his parents and has written a musical called Grassy Knoll, whose gradual unfolding provides perhaps the most confoundingly delightful segment of the book. When an aging singer keels over dead at a band showcase, Dave is jolted by the experience and proposes to Julie Muller, his girlfriend since high school. Soon afterwards, he is smitten with Gretchen, a bridesmaid at a wedding gig. Dave's happiness-versus-duty struggle forms the core of the book--and leads to an ending that begs for a sequel recounting the emotional consequences. Even the antagonisms are gentle and funny in this first novel by the author of the critically acclaimed short-story collection Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies. Film rights optioned by Linda Obst at Fox 2000. (May)