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Michael Chabon's likable first novel, "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" -- a lighthearted account of a young man growing up gay -- was received with glad cries that still reverberated when his short story collection, "A Model World," appeared. And then? Well, Chabon decided to write about a novelist who can't get his next novel written. "Wonder Boys" (Villard; 368 pages; $23) is not just the title of Chabon's book, but of the novel that character Grady Tripp can't bring himself to finish. TIME critic John Skow pans Wonder Boys as a "series of funny scenes about not writing a novel that somehow don't hang together as a novel."