Lowboy by John Wray
In Novel on April 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm
In a sick and wonderful way, Lowboy notices the details in everything: temperature, sound, light, weight. In just 24 hours, 16-year-old, schizophrenic William Heller (Lowboy) escapes from his asylum, has a near-sexual encounter with a street-woman, sneaks his ex-girlfriend out of school, eludes detectives and tramps all over Manhattan, mostly underground. Lowboy is obsessed with global-warming and convinced that the world will end because of it, in a matter of hours. He constantly wrestles with the voices in his mind, Skull and Bone. He writes letters—in code—to his mother, whom he calls Violet. She came from Austria and raised William to be a peer because she was lonely. Detective Lateef’s conversations with Violet and their pursuit to find her son are offset by the very real experience of Lowboy, who finds comfort in the A and C-sharp tones of the subway bell. When Lowboy meets Heather Covington on a bench, you can see her and smell her: like butter, clove cigarettes and beer. Wray’s writing is packed with spot-on metaphors: “the bikers all look the same: like old avocados.” His story is weird and horribly sad, but balanced and completely believable. Lowboy will leave a gnawing pain in your stomach, like hunger or fear or the feeling that he’s got it all right.