The Love Song of Jonny Valentine: A Novel
By Teddy Wayne
- Author: Teddy Wayne
- Publisher: Free Press
- Published: February 2013
- ISBN-10: 1476705852
- ISBN-13: 9781476705859
- Format: Hardcover
- Copyright: 2013
- Subject: FICTION / Literary
Our Price: $12.50
A bitingly satirical tale about America's obsession with fame follows the experiences of preadolescent pop idol Jonny Valentine, who hides behind his megastar success the bitterness and innocence of a child who feels manufactured by his LA label and hard-partying manager mother. By the Whiting Writers' Award-winning author of Kapitoil.
A provocative and bittersweet illumination of celebrity from the perspective of an 11-year-old pop sensation. In his second novel (Kapitoil, 2010), Wayne once again sees American culture through the eyes of an exceptional outsider--in this case, a pre-pubescent pop star managed by his mother and exploited by everyone involved with his life and career. As the novel's narrator, Jonny is a complex character who is both wise beyond his years (in the areas of marketing, merchandising and branding) and more naïve in relating to others his age and the world beyond show business. He seems most at home either onstage or in the video game that becomes a metaphor for his life. And if the novel has a weakness, it's that Wayne seems a little too fond of the telegraphed punch of such symbolism, as when Jonny must write a paper for his tutor about slavery and discovers (surprise!) that much of what he has learned applies to him. Yet, Jonny is such an engaging, sympathetic character that his voice carries the novel, from what he does know ("that was the whole point of becoming a rock star for a lot of guys. I didn't know that when I started out, but once you see seriously ugly bassists backstage with models, you figure it out") to what he doesn't (crucial details about his mother, father, family and career). Rather than turning Jonny into a caricature or a figure of scorn the way some of his critics do ("a cult of personality swirling around a human being who...may not be in possession of...an actual personality"), the novel invites the reader inside Jonny's fishbowl, showing what it takes to gain and sustain what he has and how easily he could lose it. Best of all is his relationship with an artist who made it through this arduous rite of passage, the Timberlake to Jonny's Bieber, who teaches him that "The people with real power are always behind the scenes. Talent gets chewed up and used. Better to be the one chewing." A very funny novel when it isn't so sad, and vice versa. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Total Reviews: 1, Write A Review
RemarkableI love books or movies told from the first person narrative of a child, or teenager - To Kill a Mocking Bird, Catcher in the Rye, etc. This book drew me in and I had no idea of how Johnny (real name Jonathan) would resolve his conflicting desires of being an 11 year-old pop star, and his longing to be a part of ordinary life. A great idea brilliantly executed. It reminded me a bit of Michael Jackson, and the well-known suffering from the pain of being a child pop.star. The Love Song of Johnny Valentine has heart, humor and an array of characters to love and hate. I only wish Teddy Wayne would write another book besides Kapitol. Soon. One of the better reads of the last year. Highly recommended.