MLA Gold Award Site

Excerpt from Lowboy by John Wray, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lowboy

by John Wray

Lowboy
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2009, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2010, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Derek Brown

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


All at once, without moving, without turning his head or taking in a breath, the Sikh said quietly and clearly: “What is your reason, William?”

“My reason?” Lowboy said. He could hardly believe it. “My reason for running away, you mean?”

The Sikh blinked his eyes idly, like a kitten sitting in a patch of sun.

“I’ll tell you why,” Lowboy said. “Since you ask.” He leaned over. “The world won’t make it past this afternoon.”
….

The Sikh turned his head and regarded him now, though only his watery close-set eyes had life. Lowboy couldn’t be sure that he was listening, since he hadn’t yet said a word, but it seemed extremely likely that he was. The moment of revelation made a leisurely circuit of the car, glittering dimly in the air, then passed away without the slightest sound. Lowboy paid it no mind. The Sikh sat bent stiffly forward, bobbing his head impatiently, digging the heels of his pennyloafers into the floor. Fidgeting like the girl across the aisle. Why was everybody so impatient? It was true of course that time was running out. There were two transfers at the next station: an orange and a blue. Choices would have to be made. They were being made already.

A hissing came off the rails as the train crossed a switch and the noise cut straight up through the car, hanging in sheets down the length of the aisle, as if to offer them a kind of shelter. Lowboy blinked and took a breath and said it. “The world’s going to die in ten hours,” he said. He shoved his fist against this teeth so he could finish.

“Ten hours exactly, Grandfather. By fire.”

The look on the Sikh’s face was impossible to make sense of. His body was the body of a somnambulist or a corpse. Lowboy closed his mouth and crossed his arms and nodded. It was difficult, even painful, to keep his eyes on the Sikh, to sit there and wait for the least show of feeling, to smile and keep nodding and hope for the one true reply. He decided to look at the girl with the headphones instead.

She was sitting straight up in her seat, the perfect mirror image of the Sikh, as poised and geometric as a painting. The longer Lowboy looked at her the less he understood. His take on the girl, on the Sikh, on everything in the car refused to hold still any longer. His thoughts slid like mercury from one possibility to another. The spaces between events got even wider. They were empty and white. He forced himself to focus on the surface of things and on the surface only. There’s more than enough there, he said to himself. He let his eyes rest flatly on the girl.

The girl’s hair was colored a dull shade of red, the shade dyed-black hair turns in the summer. It was cut in a way he’d never seen before, with long feathered bangs hanging over her eyes. When she leaned forward her face disappeared completely. Lowboy pictured a city of identical girls, all of their faces hidden, silver headphones plugging up their ears. He’d been a cosmonaut for eighteen months, a castaway, an amnesiac, the veteran of an arbitrary war. The world had gotten older while he’d been away. Away at school, regressing. He studied the girl’s hands, cupped protectively in her lap, hiding whatever the headphones were attached to. She seemed ashamed of her hands, of her lap, of her intentionally torn crocheted stockings. She’d hide her whole body if she could, he thought. He felt a rush of recognition. So would I.

Her hands were chapped and pink, with short, ungraceful fingers, but there was something about her fingers that he liked. Only when she brought one to her mouth did he notice that the nails were bitten down to the cuticles, torn and unpainted, the nails of a girl half her age. Something worked itself loose in his memory. I’ve seen hands like that before, he thought. A backlit picture came to him then, a body reclining in midair, a sound that wasn’t quite a woman’s name. A few seconds more and he’d have remembered the name, even said it out loud, but before that could happen he made a discovery. The name and the backlit picture fell away.

Excerpted from Lowboy by John Wray, published in March 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2009 by John Wray. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Atomic Weight of Love
    The Atomic Weight of Love
    by Elizabeth Church
    A prologue set in 2011 introduces readers to this novel's unforgettable narrator. Meridian ...
  • Book Jacket: Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    by Con Lehane
    It doesn't matter if you're stopping in your favorite library to quickly pick up a book, or settling...
  • Book Jacket: The Loney
    The Loney
    by Andrew Hurley
    Landscape can be a writer's best friend. Whether it's the mountains of England's lake...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Dark Lady's Mask
    by Mary Sharratt

    Based on the life of the first professional woman poet in Renaissance England, and her collaboration with Shakespeare.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Win this book!
Win The Children

From NYT bestselling author Ann Leary

The captivating story of an unconventional New England family.

Enter

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I A Greek T M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.