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3.19  ·  Rating details ·  3,105 ratings  ·  526 reviews
Early one morning in New York City, Will Heller, a sixteen-year-old paranoid schizophrenic, gets on an uptown B train alone. Will is on a mission to save the world from global warming--to do it, though, he'll need to cool down his own body first. And for that he'll need one willing girl.

Lowboy tells the story of Will's odyssey through the city's tunnels, back alleys, and s
Paperback, 258 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Picador USA (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,105 ratings  ·  526 reviews

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Let me preface this review with this; I am in a rut. A literary rut, a professional rut, a metaphysical rut, a rut rut. Damn, I love the onomatopoeia that goes with that word… try it: grind your teeth together and spit the word out, let your tongue hit the back of your teeth with a little *pfft*. Yeah, you got it.

So, it was with a heavy sigh that I picked up this book. I can’t fully blame the book for this ‘meh’ of a rating. Not really. I wish I had something to blame.

Wray’s writing has been d
Mar 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: Jeff! -- and Tami. Their reviews made me scurry off to the libr
Did you know "lowboy" was the original name for "oboe?"

I learned so much from this book.
Mar 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(FROM MY BLOG): Walk along a street in downtown Seattle. You see them everywhere. Wild-eyed men and women. Dirty, dishevelled, mumbling to themselves or yelling at the universe. Crazy people, more like scary forces of nature than human beings. Beings we nervously evade as we see them approach.

Except, of course, they aren't non-human. John Wray's novel Lowboy shows us how much humanity schizophrenics do share with the rest of us --a story being perhaps the only way we are ever apt to experience t
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what to say! This novel is truly a tour de force, a tense and suspenseful day in the life of a beautifully blonde, sixteen-year-old boy who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. I know the comparison is cliche, but imagine a Holden Caulfield-like figure off his meds having escaped the mental institution in which he's been placed while searching the streets of New York City to lose his virginity in order to save the world from global warming. John Wray burrows deep into the manically ...more
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is this moment in John Wray's "Lowboy" where a character says to the schizophrenic hero: "Listen to me, Heller. You're beautiful and you make me laugh and I want you to take me to that place that we just saw, but you need to stop saying things like that. They creep me out, okay? And you're not creepy."

And that completely sums up the experience of reading this novel, which spans roughly a day in the life of young teenager Will "Lowboy" Heller.

The story opens with him on the lam in the New
May 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The immortal poet Chastity (in 10 Things I Hate about You) once said, "I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?" I did not think so, until now.

Lowboy is a short, meandering book about Will Heller, a paranoid schizophrenic wandering around New York City, and also--in alternating chapters--about his mother and the police detective who have teamed up to search for him. Will is on a strange, vague mission to cool down the earth before global warm
May 14, 2009 marked it as aborted-efforts  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone except me, they all love it
It's always hard for me to read fiction about topics I know too much about, though I'm not so sure why. Is it because I'm irrationally, childishly possessive of my knowledge, or is it more respectable, like the research and inaccuracies are more obvious then? I don't know. Everyone else loves this book, though, so I have to think my familiarity with schizophrenia was a distraction that kept me emotionally distant from what was probably a very well-written book. Similarly, being familiar with the ...more
May 24, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF. Pretentious and annoying. Disjointed and does not add a thing to the understanding of mental illness in teens. Couldn't care less about the characters.
Bonnie Brody
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant book, a masterpiece. Because it has the ability to bring about such intense emotional reactions and is so riveting, writing an adequate review of it is very difficult. It is like trying to describe why I get goosebumps when I listen to my favorite symphony played by the greatest orchestra or trying to describe why I felt the way I did when I first saw Botticelli's paintings at the Uffizi Museum in Florence.

This book is about a schizophrenic adolescent named Lowboy. Lowboy lik
Michael Shilling
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Huh, so I went back and looked at Lowboy again, and I still think it's quite good, but this time around it feels a great deal thinner of character and has a number of unexplored / unearned conveniences, especially concerning the treatment the mother's illness. Still, it knocked me back hard and brought tears to my eyes.

Emotionally devastating, structurally perfect, and full of amazing sentences. Wray creates a consistent internal logic to Lowboy's schizophrenia -- which, considering the inheren
I not sure what I think of this book. I finished it, which is why it gets at least three stars. The writing was pretty amazing - good enough to get four stars. The characters were well developed literary characters, the allegories were there. This book had everything necessary to make it a "great book." Maybe that was the problem - it was technically almost perfect but had little beyond that - there wasn't a lot of heart or emotional vulnerability. I spent half the time reading it imaging Wray w ...more
Scott Sanders
I really don't understand what the hype is over this book. That's all I can say. I read it, didn't love it or hate was just sort of there. The story wasn't overly interesting, the characters weren't overly interesting, I never felt invested in them, and the writing was fine but not mind-blowing. So again, what exactly are people going crazy over with this book? Either I'm missing something or people are just getting caught up in the hype of well-mangaged publicity. Sorry, I wanted to lov ...more
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Check out my review of Lowboy for the folks over at The Rumpus.

I expected more from this novel, though it is hard to say precisely what I had hoped for. Early reviews were near raves, and I can objectively see why: There is much to admire in the prose. It is controlled and appropriately claustrophobic and smart. Wray is intent on getting us inside the head of a paranoid schizophrenic, and I suppose he succeeds, as far as that goes.

But I found myself thinking "So what?" throughout much of this. I suppose I wanted some grander context-setting, s
May 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning. Haunting. Brutal. Just a few of the adjectives I'd use to describe this tour de force from John Wray. A portrayal of schizophrenia that is compelling without being diagnostic, forced, condescending, or trapped in any of the other pitfalls that often nullify novels about mental illness. It is at once a story of a coming-of-age, of young love, of parenthood, and of loss, not to mention a near-perfect portrait of New York City. The pacing is immaculate. The writing is at times blindingly ...more
Anita Dalton
A couple of people whose opinions I really respect recommended Lowboy to me, saying it was in a similar vein to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I think that one really has to be a fan of the recent trend to write in a flat, unemotional, almost neurasthenic manner in order to like this book. I am not a fan of it. This book's tone reminded me a lot of Steve Rasnic Tem's Deadfall Hotel. Both books deal with extraordinary situations involving deep emotion yet felt very similar to ...more
Apr 26, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a review of this book in The New Yorker and was intrigued by a story told through the eyes of a paranoid schizophrenic teenage boy. The review had a few good things to say about the book, and I’m generally very fascinated by schizophrenia. But if you want to get a feeling for what goes on in the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic, I’m not sure this book does it – maybe because schizophrenia is such a complicated “disease.” (I remember reading an article by some fringe psychoanalyst who was ...more
Yair Ben-Zvi
Despite its high minded and incredibly (and genuinely) interesting premise, this novel unfortunately falls fairly flat on its face. John Wray can spin a sentence and his metaphors and imagery is skilled...but unfortunately misplaced here. This book's main problem (and failing) is an odd combination of sparsity and pretension; Wray seems to just assume his characters are inherently compelling and, mistaking a lack of grounding and development for a minimalist turn, gives us instead a very bare, v ...more
May 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Oriana by: amanda + a bunch of others
post: Holy shit this was incredible. Disassociating, frustrating, unbelievably intense. Plus it's extremely New York–centric, which I always adore; it just never gets old for me when the characters are standing on a corner I've stood on, I know it's insular and probably obnoxious to non-NY-ers, but I don't care, I love it I love it.

I've got a lot more to say about this book – including lines I want to quote and plot points I'd like to analyze – but I loved it so much that I loaned it out immedia
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: Jamie Dugger
Shelves: good-covers
Oh, Will. You will stay with me for a long time.

Our eponymous protagonist, William Heller, steps onto an uptown B train one November 11 morning to begin a quest his paranoid schizophrenic brain has convinced him he must complete, or the world will end. The world is too hot, and he's too hot, and he has to find someone to help him cool down. His mother, Violet, and a detective, Lateef, try to catch up with him before he is lost to his own misfiring brain. As Will's journey advances and he moves u
Mar 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alan by: Mike Reynolds
Shelves: novels
ordered this from the library, when I got there it was a large print edition. Are they trying to tell me something? Mind you it is so easy to read.. will follow. Trying to catch up, been busy...
just a few notes I made at the time: I was sucked up into the boy’s ‘crazy’ but ‘logical’ schizophrenic world (eg. a TV is a microscope with a big blue eye behind it) where buying a cupcake is a tantamount to destroying the world, and where his old girlfriend has to guide him and be careful for he
Astonishingly good; the best novel of the year so far for me. William ("Lowboy"), a teen schizophrenic is on the loose in the NYC subway system pursued by his mom and a cop, who are fearful he might do something violent. William's interior voices (or voices) seem completely believable to me (although what do I know about schizophrenia really). The threat of sudden violence (how? to whom?) keeps the story tense as a electrified wire. The other characters - Violet (his mom), Lateef (the cop), and ...more
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good look into paranoid schizophrenia, without being too much of a lesson on the illness (comparable, in a way, to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time). The city of New York was one of the main characters, especially the subway lines, which was done well without being over-the-top in detail.

Lowboy/Will's characterization pulled me in from the beginning. I don't think that the author was quite as successful with Violet's character, as I found myself skimming her sections
Mike Lindgren
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 vio ...more
A fine and troubling work. Takes place over the course of one day in NYC. Narrator is schizophrenic on the lam in the subway system trying to save the world from global warming by losing his virginity. Wray is the king of the simile, unusual and poetic comparisons abound. Touching and disturbing! Highly recommended.
Dan Pope
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
LOWBOY is a brilliant novel, nearly impossible to put down. Wray takes you inside the head of a young paranoid schizophrenic, who's stopped taking his meds. An amazing job of capturing that delusional perspective.
Esteban del Mal
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, novel
Not quite the "light" summer reading I had envisioned for myself, but an excellent novel. The author does a great job of portraying the world as a paranoid schizophrenic would see it (yet, how could anyone know?) -- disjointed, overwhelming and unknowable.
Apr 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book I've read this year.
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John Wray is the author of five critically acclaimed novels, Godsend, The Lost Time Accidents, Lowboy, The Right Hand of Sleep and Canaan's Tongue. He was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists in 2007. The recipient of a Whiting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he lives in Brooklyn and Mexico City.

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From independent presses, to tales in translation, to critical darlings and new debut novels, these books (all published in the U.S. this year)...
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“Papír prášky papír knihy léků papír recepty. Moje postel jako obálka a uvnitř milostný dopis lehce pokropený parfémem. Někdo mu říkal eau de bažant. Mohl jsem se ti poslat poštou Emily ale ty bys mě vrátila, adresát nezastižen. Ne? Jestli ne tak mi řekni ještě jednu věc četla jsi ten dopis pořádně věnovala jsi mu veškerou pozornost Emily pochopila jsi ho? Všimla sis toho o tunelu je to legrační věc jediný a jedinečný Tunel lásky. Porozuměla jsi tomu dopisu Emily posloucháš mě vůbec? Slyším jak posloucháš slyším jak dýcháš nemusím se ptát jestli jsi vypuštěná nebo vyschlá nebo žívá. Jsem zamilovaný Emily! Pomohla bys mi trošku? Pomohla bys mi a svlékla se a roztáhla nohy?” 0 likes
“V říjnu mi někdo začal říkat Spodek. Velmi nemocný muž co mluvil měkce on věřil že je zdravý. Víš co je spodek? ptal se mě. Nikdy se na mě nepodíval a mluvil smutným nóbl hlasem. Slyšel jsi o něm někdy? Řekl jsem že ne a on přikývl a zatvářil se smutně. Spodek je karta řekl. Vypadá skoro jako filek jen je nižší. Ale zase je vyšší než desítka. Spodek filek král a eso. Nic jsem neřekl a on po chvíli zapomněl že tam jsem a začal plivat na sestry. Když jsem ho viděl druhý den zeptal jsem se ho proč mi říkal Spodek. Zastavil se a chvíli o tom přemýšlel. Spodek je karta k ničemu řekl. Filek, to je jiná.” 0 likes
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