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Lowboy




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Lowboy Reviews

Alan Cheuse on All Things Considered: Books on Odd Young Men 

What is impressive about the book is its control, and its humane comprehension of radical otherness. In this regard, it ideally justifies itself, as one always hopes novels will. You can imagine replying to someone who was curious about what it’s like to be schizophrenic, “Well, start with John Wray’s novel.” Lowboy may often be lost to himself, but he is not lost to us. Wray knows how to induce and then manage a kind of epistemological schizophrenia in the reader, whereby we can inhabit Lowboy’s groundless visions and still glimpse the ground they negate.  . . .‘Lowboy’ is exceptionally tender and acute . . . John Wray is a daring young writer.”  —James Wood, The New Yorker

“‘Lowboy’ is uncompromising, often gripping and generally excellent. . . . One of the novel’s many pleasures is just going along: putting yourself fully in the hands of the story and its author, being drawn in, gradually immersed, making the connections, appreciating those seeds as they bloom into the tale’s developing complexity, danger and tragedy. By the time it all falls into place, the reader is long hooked and turning back is not an option. . . . I’d be proud to be seen reading this novel on the downtown 6, or anywhere else at all.” —Charles Bock, The New York Times Book Review 

Masterful . . . ‘Lowboy’ is at its best at its most unflinching. Like Ken Kesey, Wray has a keen ear for the language of madness—the scripts, the shrinks, the straightjackets and the electric shocks.” —Matthew Shaer, The San Francisco Chronicle

“John Wray’s haunting third novel, ‘Lowboy,’ which he wrote almost entirely on subway trains, delivers a vivid set of notes from underground, tunneling into the warped adolescent mind of Will Heller, a beguiling but seriously unhinged 16-year-old paranoid schizophrenic. . . . Despite its honestly earned idiosyncrasies, Wray’s breakthrough novel—arriving after two dissimilar works of historical fiction—will likely be filed alongside the work of his bestselling Brooklyn contemporaries. . . . This poetic, stirringly strange novel offers an empathic reminder that, for many, the light at the end of the tunnel can be taken for a harbinger of doom.” —Akiva Gottlieb, The Los Angeles Times

John Wray’s third novel, one of the most anticipated books of the spring, has the makings of an American classic. Lowboy also represents Wray’s arrival as a major author, even though the story is in many ways a conventional one in which the hero of modest means sets out into the world with an enormous task, encounters a number of obstacles, comes to some new realization about his condition and finds a degree of redemption in the end. . . . Wray’s genius as a storyteller lies in the fact that he recognizes that schizophrenia may well be the prevailing logic of the Twittered, Facebook-friended, RSS-fed culture around us. We can sympathize with Heller, and even love him, because he is all of us.” —Andrew Ervin, Miami Herald

“The novel has a thriller-like pace, and Wray keeps us riveted and guessing, finding chilling rhetorical and pictorial equivalents for Will’s uniquely dysfunctional perspective…The suspense is expertly maintained, straight through the novel’s dreamlike climactic encounter and heart-wrenching final paragraph…The opening pages recall Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, but the denouement and haunting aftertaste may make the stunned reader whisper “Dostoevsky.” Yes, it really is that good.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Wray’s captivating third novel drifts between psychological realities while exploring the narrative poetics of schizophrenia. . . . Wray deploys brilliant hallucinatory visuals, including chilling descriptions of the subway system and an imaginary river flowing beneath Manhattan. In his previous works, Wray has shown that he’s not a stranger to dark themes, and with this tightly wound novel, he reaches new heights.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“A breathtaking journey.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“It’s hard not to admire this bullet train of a book for its chilling power.” —Bookforum

“[A] lip-biting thriller.” —Marie Claire

“Wray is an obviously gifted writer, whose treatment of Will is a tour de force of empathy, style, and imagination.” —Booklist