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Buzz Book Club

Buzz Book Club: The Wishbones, Section One

Welcome back, Buzz Book Club readers! I hope you're enjoying the The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta so far. It's definitely Nick Hornsby-esque already and even though our protagonist is the kind of guy I'd tell my girlfriends to get over, I still can't help but find him somewhat sympathetic.

Here's a recap of how the Book Club goes if you're new: Every week I'll suggest chapters to complete by the next post (which, in this case, will go up every Friday in August). In these weekly Book Club posts, I'll posit a few questions to prompt discussion in the comments section.

Of course, you are always welcome to read beyond the weekly chapters, but please don't spoil anything in the comments! After the jump you'll find some questions that struck me as I read this section.

The next assignment: Read from the beginning of the "June" section ("It's Your Wedding") through the chapter called "Carlos and Stevie Ray." We'll chat about this second section next Friday, Aug. 15.

To discuss the first section of The Wishbones, in which we read from the start of the story until the end of the chapter titled "You've Got a Friend" in the section titled "May,"


  1. What do you think of our protagonist, Dave? Do you relate to him at all?
  2. Which of the other characters do you like, or dislike? And are they the same as the ones you relate to? I personally am curious about Stan, and I think I like Ian the most, but I often relate to Julie. At the same time, I wish I could yell at her to wake up and realize that this guy maybe doesn’t really want to marry her.
  3. Speaking of marriage, it's portrayed pretty bleakly in the book so far, and together with his other works like Election and Little Children, it makes me wonder about Perotta's take on marriage in general. Based on his works, do you think there is anything redeeming in marriage at all? Or is he merely a cynic?
  4. Several of these characters still live at home with their parents, despite being 30 years old, or even older, and they don't seem to think it's that bad. It makes me think about the modern-day practice of moving back in with parents after college. Where do you stand on this issue? Would you live with your parents as a 30-something adult?
  5. What's your opinion of playing in a wedding band as part of one's career? Dave and his bandmates witness the death of an elderly wedding singer, Phil Cardini (Phil Hart, to Dave), and Dave thinks a lot about being Phil's age when he dies, and having Julie mourn him. Do you think it would be fun to be (or to have your significant other/life partner as) a wedding performer all the way into old age? Is it a sweet way to bring joy to people's lives, or do you think it's not that cool?


Join The Conversation
cgnelson cgnelson 8 years
I actually loved this book, and read it in just two days. Part of the appeal was the music theme as I am a bit of a music junkie myself, but I didn't find it too campy. I can't see these things happening in my own life, but the last couple of years have shown me that don't always "just work out" by just going with the flow. I don't mean to suggest that you every decision should be planned, but I think that this book highlights the challenge of being confident that you're making the right decisions at the right time, and not just going along with things because it seems like the thing to do. I won't give anything away, but I did take a lot more out of this than just a satirical novel with some funny moments. I definitely got a lot of laughs out of the story, but while I can't say I sympathized, I could very much imagine these characters being real and in found their flaws (and strengths) very human. And no, I don't live in New Jersey :)
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Whip and Julie, I agree with you about his other books being better (especially "Little Children"). Yet this one is still entertaining and not a half bad attempt considering this was his first novel. At least he kept growing. Thanks, Julie, for the tip about "The Abstinence Teacher." I want to read the "Bad Haircut" stories as well. My pile of too be reads keeps growing!
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I agree, Julie. I really liked "Little Children" which is one of the reasons that I'm so disappointed in this book so far. I had high hopes.
julie090583 julie090583 8 years
This is definitely one of Perrotta's weaker efforts, though I thought it was still entertaining. For those who like his style but prefer more substance, I'd recommend "The Abstinence Teacher" or "Little Children", both have the same dark wit but more thought provoking themes.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
Thus far, the book has provided me with some real laugh aloud moments; it's a easy read that captures the drama of the 80s well. I love Dave's observations about in-laws, maybe because I just became a mother-in-law myself and the awkward moments before dinner with Dave is left alone with Mr. Muller. The detail about the aprons and the gingham oven mitts made me smile as well. I'm not sure that Perrotta wants us to like any of the characters; he seems to be mocking many of their decisions and behaviors and it's the satire that provides me with those moments of laughter. I recognize many of these characters and I'm not sure I feel sympathy for any of them, with the exception of Julie. She does, indeed, need to wake up. Dave and his friends seem stuck in prolonged adolescence, fearful of growing up, which makes them more pathetic than the 30 somethings who are living at home today. Today, many who never left or have returned home aren't aimless; they are paying off student loans, launching careers, taking care of their parents, etc. Unlike Dave, they aren't stuck and do have ambitions. But living at home with your parents in the 80s, was not as common or as accepted as it is today. And then there's poor Phil, another person who is/was clinging to the past. I guess I do have some sympathy for him. As I'm reading, I can imagine scenes in the movie and hear the Village People music playing in the background. And again, I laugh. I really am having fun reading this one.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I think that the whole "parents walking in on them having sex" felt pretty contrived and unnecessary as well. They are in their early 30's. They've been together for 15 years. Of COURSE they are going to have sex, and since neither of them has a place of their own, where else are they going to do it?
katie225 katie225 8 years
- i feel bad for dave so far. he's a very pathetic character, and i feel bad. the book is funny so far, an easy read. his opinion about marriage is depressing, but it's realistic to how many men feel about marriage so it's interesting for me to read from that male perspective that at one point i understand and other times i'm perplexed. - the fact that he lives at home still is befitting his career decisions and is probably the reason why he's so immature and "stuck" still. he mentions this when talking about imagining his life if he had gotten an apartment in the city, how it would have made him have to grow up in a way, forcing him to learn how to cook and whatnot. - julie. poor julie, what a dummy. obviously, you shouldn't be with someone whose life views differ so dramatically. she does not get the fact that it's not that he doesn't love her, it's that the institution of marriage scares him. and it scares a lot of guys, but that's something that's hard for a lot of women to understand, especially if she's put in 15 years with this guy. although, you need to talk to the guy you're with for that long and make sure your dreams and goals are the same. - it doesn't help dave's cause of being a bachelor that he doesn't communicate his actual desires and dreams with this woman! - i have no problem with being with a guy who doesn't want to get married, because i don't think that being married means all that much anymore and it definitely doesn't prove commitment or love. your actions prove commitment and love. but the fact that they don't even live together after all this time would be a HINT to me that this guy has some issues. it's not that he doesn't want to get married that bothers me, it's that he can't even commit to her enough to live with her. and she doesn't pick up on that. - julie is a cautionary tale to women: don't be so blind to his issues. no, you can't change him. - also, why were her parents so mad when they found them having sex? 15 years, they might as well have been married. my parents would have laughed, but it's to be expected that they'd be having sex. i couldn't really wrap my head around it.
adw7984 adw7984 8 years
-I am not really liking Dave so far. I just think he seems like a bit of a loser who is just coasting through life. If I were Julie I would definitely not be with him after 15 years of him not being willing to commit. She seems to be stuck just as much as he is. - I have to admit that I am 24 years old and I still live at home. I am doing this while I have a steady 9-5 job with insurance. My reason for staying at home is to save up money for a house and because I am going back to grad school. These characters just seem kind of "stuck". I might live with my mom after I am 30, but I think it's because we are very close and it would be more like a roommate situation.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
Oh, one thing that I did think was cool was the part about how Dave likes playing in a wedding band because he gets to interact with happy people, unlike people who work at the DMV, who only interact with people at their most miserable. I suppose I can see his point. but as a music snob, I really don't like cover bands.
WhatTheFrockBlog WhatTheFrockBlog 8 years
I actually read this entire book over the past few days, despite the fact that I thought it was mediocre at best. Still, I'll try not to spoil anything. It was hard for me to enjoy this book because right of the bat I didn't like Dave. A 30-something delivery lives with his parents and plays in a cover band? Boo. Get a REAL job and play in a REAL band with original music(and get an apartment, while you're at it). He seems like a decent enough guy, but he's way too immature I also thought that Julie was a fool for sticking with him all that time. I liked Ian and I kind of wish I could've seen Phil Hart perform in real life. He sounded like a cute old man.
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