Early one morning in New York City, Will Heller, a sixteen-yearold paranoid schizophrenic, gets on an uptown B train alone. Like most people he knows, Will believes the world is being destroyed by climate change; unlike most people, hes convinced he can do something about it. Unknown to his doctors, unknown to the police - unknown even to Violet Heller, his devoted mother - Will alone holds the key to the planets salvation. To cool down the world, he has to cool down his own overheating body: to cool down his body, he has to find one willing girl. And he already has someone in mind.
Lowboy, John Wrays third novel, tells the story of Wills fantastic and terrifying odyssey through the citys tunnels, back alleys, and streets in search of Emily Wallace, his one great hope, and of Violet Hellers desperate attempts to locate her son before psychosis claims him completely. She is joined by Ali Lateef, a missing-persons specialist, who gradually comes to discover that more is at stake than the recovery of a runaway teen: Violet- beautiful, enigmatic, and as profoundly at odds with the world as her son - harbors a secret that Lateef will discover at his own peril.
Suspenseful and comic, devastating and hopeful by turns, Lowboy is a fearless exploration of youth, sex, and violence in contemporary America, seen through one boys haunting and extraordinary vision.
On November 11 Lowboy ran to catch a train. People were in his way but he was careful not to touch them. He ran up the platforms corrugated yellow lip and kept his eyes on the trains cab, commanding it to wait. The doors had closed already but they opened when he kicked them. He couldnt help but take that as a sign.
He got on board the train and laughed. Signs and tells were all around him. The floor was shivering and ticking beneath his feet and the bricktiled arches above the train beat the murmurings of the crowd into copper and aluminum foil. Every seat in the car had a person in it. Notes of music rang out as the doors closed behind him: C# first, then A. Sharp against both ears, like the tip of a pencil. He turned and pressed his face against the glass.
Skull & Bones, his state-appointed enemies, were forcing their way headfirst up the platform. Skull was a skinny milkfaced man, not much to look at, but Bones was the size of a MetroCard...
A dark and enlivening exploration of the mind of a teenager woefully afflicted by mental illness, the free-spirited and unaware companion that he seeks, the passion and mystery of a mother earnestly searching for him, and the stoic and pensive detective attempting to thwart him while understanding the mess of it all. You will find yourself getting pulled in deeper with every chapter, resonating with each of characters more and more until you realize that you’re at the end of line and you long for it to begin all over again.
(Reviewed by Derek Brown).
Full Review (976 words).
About the Author
John Wray was born in Washington D.C in 1971 to an American father and Austrian mother. His first novel, The Right Hand of Sleep won him a Whiting Writer's Award at age 30, an honor bestowed upon such notables as David Foster Wallace and William Vollmann. His second novel, Canaan's Tongue, earned him a position on the list of Granta's best novelists under 35. In addition to his writing, John Wray was also the front man of Marmalade, a Brooklyn-based pop band that released an album, Beautiful Soup, in 2003. Wray wrote most of the first draft of Lowboy while riding back and forth on various NYC subway trains - about five days a week for six months, in his estimation.
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The talented John Wray ...
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