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Lowboy by John Wray

Lowboy (2009)

by John Wray

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English (47)  Dutch (2)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
John Wray's dizzyingly seductive "Lowboy" is a tale told by a schizophrenic teenager. (Farrar Straus Giroux, $25). Wray's protagonist is on the lam from a mental institution, loose among the commuters and winos and rolling thunder of the Manhattan subway. Making your central character deeply insane is, of course, a risky and ambitious trick, but Wray carries it off with a fluid, inventive style that rises at times to a frightening pitch. Lowboy is an amplified hero for our times; despite his violence and craziness and incoherence, he is fundamentally sweet and in search of love. ( )
  MikeLindgren51 | Aug 7, 2018 |
A schizophrenic teenage boy escapes the hospital and heads for the NY subway. His mother and a detective are in pursuit. This author is a brilliant writer! His descriptive powers are insane. You see, feel, smell and hear things as Will does and it is incredible and disturbing. The book takes of like the express train and never relents. You ride with him, and hold your breath the entire time. Good thing this is a fast read! A new Carcher in the Rye! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
45 of 75 for 2015. There are times I would like to go back and read the description that made me order a book. What did I read there that made me think I'd enjoy this piece of fiction? That said, this book came up on my iPod immediately after Rita Mae Brown, and for some reason, the in-dash display continued to read "Rita Mae Brown" all through the first half the story. Focusing on a young man who has escaped from a mental institution, and is currently riding the New York City subway, the narration jumps back and forth between the young man himself and the NYC policeman who, with the help of the boy's mother, is looking for him. The young man is convinced that the world is getting warmer and is approaching a critical point. It is up to him to save the world. Indeed, I note that the title of the German translation is Retter der Welt (Savior of the World). Not the type of fiction I'm normally drawn to, I will say that the story is captivating with several plot twists as we approach the story's denouement. Almost a treatise on paranoid schizophrenia, the book plods a bit, even as the trains rush under the city streets, leading up to a dénouement that feels a bit forced, if completely natural. ( )
  mtbearded1 | Jun 7, 2015 |
Halfway through and just couldn't bring myself to waste any more time with it. The Author has a way with words which was beautiful but the story was dull and going nowhere. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
As far as YA lit goes, this is a fairly boring book. I never felt invested in any of the characters nor did I feel any of them were relatable. Unlike some of the other stellar books out there that are palatable for teens (eg, Everything Happens Today), you'd HAVE to be a novice reader to overlook the things this novel lacks. The best that can be said about it is that its main character is Holden Caulfield-ish, and even then I'd rather have just re-read Catcher in the Rye than this. ( )
  Seven.Stories.Press | Jun 13, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374194165, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, March 2009: I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last reader to herald Lowboy for the subtle homage it pays to one of the best-known heroes in 20th century fiction, or to envy and delight in its masterful vision of New York City as seen from its darkest, most primal places. What's most seductive for me about John Wray's third novel--and arguably the one that puts him squarely on the map alongside contemporary luminaries like Joseph O'Neill, Jonathan Lethem, and Junot Diaz--is how skillfully it explores the mind's mysterious terrain. This isn't exactly uncharted land: John Wray's Will Heller--a.k.a. Lowboy--is a paranoid schizophrenic off his meds and on the lam, certain of both his own dysfunction and of the world's imminent collapse by way of global warming, but Wray handles that subtext delicately and is careful to make Will's mission to "cool down" and save the world feel single-minded without being moralistic. Wray invokes all the classic elements of a mystery in the telling, and that's what makes this novel such a searing read. As Will rides the subway in pursuit of a final solution to the crisis at hand, we meet (among others) Will's mother Violet, an Austrian by birth with an inscrutable intensity that gives the story a decidedly noir feel; Ali Lateef, the unflappable detective investigating Will's disappearance whose touch of brilliance always seems in danger of being snuffed out; and Emily Wallace, the young woman at the heart of Will's tragic odyssey. The novel moves seamlessly between Will's fits and starts below ground and Violet and Ali's equally staccato investigation of each other above. This kind of pacing is the stuff we crave (and we think you will, too)--the kind that draws you in so unawares that before you know it, it's past midnight and you're down to the last page. –-Anne Bartholomew

John Wray on Lowboy

John Wray Three years ago, not long after I'd begun Lowboy, I made a decision that--in retrospect--even I find slightly odd: to write as much of the novel as possible on the New York City subway. The reasons for this admittedly drastic step ranged from the practical (subway cars have no internet access, no cell phone reception, and next to no procrastination options) to the wildly romantic, if not outright ridiculous. Like some over-eager method actor, a part of me was convinced that I'd write about the subway more vividly and honestly if I immersed myself in it absolutely. Fully half of Lowboy's narrative takes place underground, much of it in the subway tunnels, so getting the look, smell, and feel of subterranean New York right was crucial to the book's success. It also happened to be cheaper than renting an office.

The challenges of my new workplace weren't the ones that I'd expected. I was amazed at how effectively I was able to tune out the commotion around me, simply by putting on headphones: a good playlist on my laptop was essential, but beyond that, as long as I avoided rush hour, staying focused presented no great problem. The seats in the older cars made my back hurt after a few hours, certain stretches of track in the outer boroughs were so rough that it was hard to type properly, and restrooms were few and far between, but I adjusted to those things in time. The more comfortable I got, however, the more my frustration grew, for the simple reason that the subway was starting to feel like my living room. I was becoming resistant to its strangeness: I was seeing it with the eyes of a commuter. Nothing could have been farther from the point of view of my protagonist, a sixteen-year-old schizophrenic boy, newly escaped from the hospital, to whom even the most familiar things feel alien. The harder I looked, the less I seemed to see.

I'm not sure what triggered the change that came a few weeks later, but I know that it came suddenly. I was riding the Coney Island-bound F in the early morning, staring blankly out the window at the tunnel racing past; I remember feeling bored and vaguely hungry. When I turned around, though, I seemed to be in a different car completely. For the first time, every feature of the interior had a clear purpose to me: the seats stopped short of the floor for ease of cleaning, the orange and brown tones were meant to encourage well-being, and the polka-dot pattern on the walls, which I'd never looked at closely, was in fact made up of the official seal of the state of New York, repeated countless times in brown and grey. The discovery made me a little paranoid--on the lookout, suddenly, for more signs of Big Brother's presence--which was just the state of mind I'd been pursuing. From then on, the novel all but wrote itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Possessing paranoid schizophrenic beliefs that he can save the planet from climate change by cooling down his own overheated body, sixteen-year-old New York youth Will Heller pursues a terrifying and delusional odyssey through the city's tunnels and backalleys.… (more)

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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847671519, 1847671527

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