The Love Song of Jonny Valentine (Free Press)
In The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, Teddy Wayne turns his keen insight and mordant wit to America’s monstrous obsession with fame, channeling the vacuum-sealed perspective of the titular 11-year-old pop megastar. As we follow Jonny (né Jonathan Valentino, of St. Louis) and his hard-partying manager-mother, Jane, across America, he confronts the gilded tribulations of bubblegum-pop stardom. Hopping from hotel suites to corporate arenas, he chases the specter of his absent father—who may be trying to reconnect with him through the Internet—among his countless, faceless fans. The singer’s coming of age culminates in a series of powerful decisions that will alter the course of his nascent career—and his life.
If this impressive novel, both entertaining and tragically insightful, were a song, it would have a Michael Jackson beat with Morrissey lyrics. —Publishers Weekly, starred review
A very funny novel when it isn’t so sad, and vice versa. —Kirkus, starred review
In the near-pubescent hitmaker of the title, Teddy Wayne delivers a wild ride through the upper echelons of the entertainment machine as it ingests human beings at one end and spews out dollars at the other. Jonny's like all the rest of us, he wants to love and be loved, and as this brilliant novel shows, that’s a dangerous way to be when you’re inside the machine. —Ben Fountain, New York Times bestselling author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Teddy Wayne is the author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine and Kapitoil, for which he was the winner of a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize runner-up, and a New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. The recipient of an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, his work regularly appears in The New Yorker, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, McSweeney’s, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of Harvard and Washington University in St. Louis, where he taught fiction and creative nonfiction writing. He lives in New York.
Photo by Christine Mladic