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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "They're not afraid for Will at all. It's everyone else they're afraid for."
Will Heller, a paranoid schizophrenic known as Lowboy, reveals in the opening sentences of Wray's latest novel that he is overly sensitive to sense impressions, hearing the closing of the door of a subway car as "C# first, then A. Sharp against both ears, like the tip of a pencil." He has escaped from the "school" he has been attending for two years, believing that "the...
Published on 17 Oct. 2009 by Mary Whipple

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3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and well written but other's have done it better
William Heller, aka Lowboy, is on the run after breaking his conditions of release from Bellevue psychiatric hospital. He travels the subways and subterranean tunnels, off his medication and becoming increasingly psychotic as his paranoid schizophrenia takes over tipping the human need to find patterns in the chaotic into madness. Wray writes the novel from two points...
Published on 16 Oct. 2010 by Jo Bennie


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "They're not afraid for Will at all. It's everyone else they're afraid for.", 17 Oct. 2009
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Lowboy (Paperback)
Will Heller, a paranoid schizophrenic known as Lowboy, reveals in the opening sentences of Wray's latest novel that he is overly sensitive to sense impressions, hearing the closing of the door of a subway car as "C# first, then A. Sharp against both ears, like the tip of a pencil." He has escaped from the "school" he has been attending for two years, believing that "the world's going to die in ten hours, by fire," and he is determined to do whatever he can to prevent this--and to lose his virginity as a way to stop global warming. He seems almost logical, though odd, as he first begins to move through the subway system, gradually yielding to more and more bizarre behavior as time passes and his medications wear off.

Ali Lateef, a New York City detective whose area of expertise is "Special Category Missing," is hoping that Will's mother, "Miss Heller," sometimes known as Violet, can provide enough information to allow him to find Will in the seven or eight hours before his lack of medication pushes him into violence, but she, too, has her problems. As Will travels the subways, he recalls stories his grandfather told him about an underground city beside the Musaquantas River, and, in fact, he finds a whole "city" beneath the streets, when he follows a homeless woman named "Heather Covington," through the tunnels and into a "room" beneath a grate on the street. He then tries to find "Emily," outside the subway, the only young woman he has ever been close to, and who seemed fond of him two years ago. The seriousness of Will's psychosis is obvious, however, from the fact that he has been committed to his special "school" because he pushed Emily onto the tracks of the subway just two years past, narrowly missing the third rail.

Will's complete inability to relate to the real world soon becomes even more obvious in a sad and moving scene in which he goes into a bakery to buy some cupcakes, completely unable to decide exactly what he wants, unable to communicate in any way with the salesperson, and unable to understand how much to pay, even volunteering that he has $640. When he finally gets his cupcakes, he puts down the bag and inspects it, determined to "take out the machinery" which he believes is inside.

Wray writes an intense and moving novel which moves inexorably to its conclusion, one which even the most hopeful reader knows is inevitable. Will's eight-hour decline into obvious psychosis is reflected gradually through Wray's prose style, becoming more and more fragmented, lacking in punctuation and transitions, and less and less predictable. He is completely unable to deal with the real world, yet the reader cares for him, and hopes for him, despite his increasingly distorted "logic" and the reader's own inability to know how much to believe and how much to attribute to his visions and voices. The power of the novel increases exponentially as Will comes closer and closer to violence. Carefully researched (and actually written while the author rode the subway every day), John Wray's Lowboy is another milestone for Wray, a finely structured, beautifully composed novel of extreme psychological illness presented in a way which touches the heart. Mary Whipple

The Right Hand of Sleep
Canaan's Tongue
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 17 Oct. 2010
By 
Pen pal "Topaz" (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Lowboy (Paperback)
To begin with I wasn't sure if I was enjoying this book, and enjoyment is probably not the word for a book like this anyway. It makes uncomfortable and yet fascinating reading. It draws you in and so before you know it you are compelled to carry on. John Wray has obviously researched his subject well, and he effectively puts you in the mind of Will Heller who suffers from schizophrenia. To do this cannot be an easy task, and it is exhausting to find yourself in such a disturbed frame of mind, unpeaceful and threatening. The mood of the book is menacing and somewhat horrifying and yet so sad too. The contrast of such a physically beautiful boy but with so much suffering and torment going on in his mind is well portrayed. You can understand Emily feeling she can help him because his beauty is so deceptive. Human nature is such that it always responds positively to beauty. You can comprehend her initial sympathetic collusion. Is everything as it seems, how much does his mother have to answer for? Where does illusion end and truth begin? Quite a powerful read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling, exhausting ride, 6 Aug. 2009
By 
S. Chiger (New York, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lowboy (Hardcover)
The critical praise for Lowboy was so exalted I almost hesitated to buy the book; nothing could live up to that hype. But Lowboy just about does. The disintegrating point of view of the title character, aka Will Heller, is precise and sweeps you along. The entire book, in fact, is paced like an express train: fast, at times appearing to be controlled, at other times delivering unexpected jolts. It was only afterward that I questioned a few of the authorial choices, in particular concerning Will's mother. But the external and internal worlds of Will sucked me in to such a degree that even after I emerged, I still felt vaguely unsettled, as you do when climbing up the subway steps after an especially long trip to be smacked with the midday sun. All I can say is that I can't recommend Lowboy enough.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beware you are entering the Subway of the mind!., 10 April 2009
This review is from: Lowboy (Paperback)
I can see the story behind all the babblings of Will and his Mother, but it didn't become evident for me untill the closing stages. I don't know if the author (John Wray) meant it to be like that or if I missed some clues in the ramblings!! William Heller or Lowboy as he calls himself is a Paranoid Schizophrenic who at 16 is becoming more of a challenge for his Mother to handle,(she also has a grip on reality by the hinges) and after an incident on the Subway, has Will commited rather than have him sent to prison.

The story takes place in a time line of just over 24 hours in which we find that Will (Lowboy) has absconded from an institution he refers to as 'school' after not taking his medication for some days. It is common that mentally ill people stop taking their medication thinking that as they feel better, they no longer need it. There were side effects of the drugs which Will was feeling. These side effects (according to Lowboy) were hindering him in 'saving the world' but are also very common in 16 year old boys! As the day continues his lucidity starts to fail him more and it becomes apparant that he needs to be caught before he hurts himself and those around him.

It seemed to me that there were two main characters in the novel and these were rolled out seamlessly without warning. Will, who could have rational thoughts and Lowboy who was the dreamer, the Paranoid Schizophrenic. The charactors were few on the ground which was a good thing as the novel was a slightly challenging read - not exactly linear! But there is a conclusion, and a basis to the story - I think lol!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and well written but other's have done it better, 16 Oct. 2010
By 
Jo Bennie (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Lowboy (Paperback)
William Heller, aka Lowboy, is on the run after breaking his conditions of release from Bellevue psychiatric hospital. He travels the subways and subterranean tunnels, off his medication and becoming increasingly psychotic as his paranoid schizophrenia takes over tipping the human need to find patterns in the chaotic into madness. Wray writes the novel from two points of view, Lowboy's increasingly disturbed perspective and that of Detective Ali Lateef, searching for Lowboy with his mother Yda, aka Violet, their tale too becoming unspooled as Lateef reflects on his altered identity, name changed when his father converted to Islam, and that of Yda. Very good, but I prefer Tabitha Suzuma's trilogy about a teenage boy with manic depression.
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4.0 out of 5 stars the review above is excellent...., 4 May 2009
This review is from: Lowboy (Paperback)
and gives most of the storyline without spoilers so I will not expand on it. A beautifully, cleverly written book which appears to be the result of extensive research. Allows an insight into (in my case) unknown territory.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars clever but disappointing, 16 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Lowboy (Paperback)
A young boy is schizophrenic and sees things and hides out in the New York subway.It holds your interest at first as it's very portentous,you wait for something exciting to happen but it never does so eventually -despite the clever-clever language - you just get fed up with it.
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Lowboy
Lowboy by John Wray (Paperback - 5 Aug. 2010)
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