As he did in his critically acclaimed debut novel, Kapitoil...Mr. Wayne seems intent on satirizing the absurdities of late-stage capitalism. In this case he sends up America's obsession with celebrity and the insatiable, implacable fame machine that eats up artists and dreams, lacquers the talented and untalented alike with glitz, and spits out merchandise and publicity in a never-ending cycle of commodification…. What makes Mr. Wayne's portraits of Jonny, his mother and the tour staff so persuasive—and affecting, in the end—is his refusal to sentimentalize them, combined with his assiduous avoidance of easy stereotypes…. Mr. Wayne depicts Jonny as a complicated, searching boy, by turns innocent and sophisticated beyond his years, eager to please and deeply resentful, devoted to his unusual talent and aware of both its rewards and its costs. This is what makes The Love Song more than a scabrous sendup of American celebrity culture; it's also a poignant portrait of one young artist's coming of age.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times
Onto [Jonny Valentine's] thin, prepubescent shoulders, the very funny Wayne has heaped the full weight of our obnoxious, vacuous, fame-sodden culture. It speaks well of both Jonny and his creator that the result is this good, a moving, entertaining novel that is both poignant and pointed — a sweet, sad skewering of the celebrity industry.
Jess Walters - New York Times Book Review
At once brilliantly funny and beautifully written...The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a novel of many distinctions…. Consistently engaging and lively...Wayne never sacrifices the reader’s sympathies. Jonny is a victim of popular culture, and we wince for him throughout brilliantly awkward set-pieces: a choreographed “homecoming” where he completely fails to communicate with a former best friend, an ill-fated trip to a nightclub with his mischievous support act and an appearance on a Letterman-esque show that channels David Foster Wallace.… If there is any justice in the world, with The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, Wayne will have penned a chart-busting hit.
New York News Day
(Starred review.) A coming-of-age tale with a modern context, this sharply written novel...pulls back the curtain on the 21st-century fame machine. Not unlike a certain fever-inducing pop star, ‘tween sensation Jonny Valentine went from YouTube to Madison Square Garden with bubblegum hits like “Guys vs. Girls” and “U R Kewt.” Now each decision on his national tour is choreographed for mass appeal, from what team to feature on his baseball hat, to the femme pop star with whom his label stages a date. Along for the ride is his mom Jane, micromanaging his image, scheduling weekly weigh-ins, and generally fending off normalcy to keep a good thing going. But through an intimate first-person characterization masterfully executed by Wayne, we see fame through Jonny’s complicated point of view. Beneath the rote catechism of his overmanaged career (“Jane says we’re in the business of making fat girls feel like they’re pretty for a few hours”) are the wholehearted yearnings of a conflicted 11-year-old: his obsession with getting a successful erection, a desire to be like his musical idols, and most of all a quest to reconnect with his father. The smart skewering of the media, both highbrow and low, is wickedly on target. And a mock New Yorker article is a memorable literary lampoon. But the real accomplishment is the unforgettable voice of Jonny. If this impressive novel, both entertaining and tragically insightful, were a song, it would have a Michael Jackson beat with Morrissey lyrics.
Hilarious and heartbreaking.... An original, poignant and captivating coming-of-age story...a breathtakingly fresh novel about the dark side of show business.
A provocative and bittersweet illumination of celebrity from the perspective of an 11-year-old pop sensation.... Wayne once again sees American culture through the eyes of an exceptional outsider—in this case, a pre-pubescent pop star.... Rather than turning Jonny into a caricature or a figure of scorn...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...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.
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