When Whiting Writers’ Award winner Teddy Wayne published his critically acclaimed debut, Kapitoil, it was hailed as “one of the best novels of [this] generation” by the Boston Globe, was 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 within 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 his absent father 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.