Friday, May 8, 2009

Book Review

"On November 11 Lowboy ran to catch a train...On November 12 [omitted to prevent spoiler]." Thus are the opening and closing sentences of John Wray's new novel, "Lowboy". I came across this novel whilst perusing the Macmillan (MPS) website several weeks ago. Apparently it has been receiving rave reviews. So I managed to snag myself a copy. This past week I decided to actually sit down and get through it. If I had to grade it, it earned a 'B' in my book. The story is about a 16-year old paranoid schizophrenic and his misadventures in and around the New York City subway system. Apparently the world is going to end, and only he can save it from total destruction. Along with Lowboy's extremely unreliable story telling, we are given the somewhat more reliable story of how his mother and a detective track him down.

At times absurd and mysterious, Lowboy is a novel about human relationships and how a mental disorder can make, break, and distort those very relationships. While considered literary fiction, the book has tendencies to make you think that you are reading a science fiction novel. That is part of its thrill. The reader is given many clues as to what is actually going on, but there are several things that remain unanswered at its end, including the end itself. What happened in Richard's basement (exactly)? How is it that it ended that way? Was Lowboy right all along and we were the crazy ones? Well, I guess those are answers that can be left up to the imagination of all those who partake in Lowboy and his quest for global salvation. Here is a promotional video of John Wray reading the first page or so on the L train:

Photo from

1 comment:

  1. "What happened in Richard's basement..." --sounds dirty Jon. I bet I know what you thought happened in Richards den of sin. Good review, though. Keep up the good reading.