Vegantrav's Reviews > Lowboy

Lowboy by John Wray
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Sep 04, 2009

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Read in September, 2009

John Wray provides us with a dual-perspective story: (1) a day in the life of a schizophrenic, William Heller, whose nickname is Lowboy. Will has just been released from a mental hospital and has been off his medications for some time, so he is his normal, paranoid self rather than his medicated, "flat" self. He is convinced that he must save the world from overheating. He will do this by having sex with Emily, a girl who, some years before, he had pushed onto the subway tracks, though she escaped unharmed; (2) the efforts of a police officer, Ali Lateef, and Will's mother, Yda (also known as Violet) to track down Will.

This is far more a character study of Will, Ali, and Violet than it is a plot driven story. It's almost a Joyce/Ulysses-type journey (though it's not a stream-of-consciousness novel) through the day these people pass: Will wondering the tunnels of the subway system and re-uniting with Emily and the odd relationship that develops between Ali and Violet as they try to find Will, moving from Ali's office, to the streets, to Violet's home, and back to the streets again.

I was most intrigued by Wray's presentation of the world from the viewpoint of a paranoid schizophrenic, and, reading the acknowledgments, he apparently did a good deal of research, so I am inclined to believe that we have a fairly good portrayal of how schizophrenics view the world.

Overall, I did like the book and was primarily sucked in and motivated to keep reading because the characters were all so very interesting. Wray certainly was not trying to tell some grand narrative here, so the plot really is nothing of great consequence. I only gave the novel three stars because, after finishing it, it's not something that I could go to someone and say: "Read this! You'll love it!" It's not great art or beautiful. It's just very interesting.
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