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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z



Lowboy Cover

ISBN13: 9780374194161
ISBN10: 0374194165
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. How does the author demonstrate in writing what Will is going through, what the world looks and feels like to him? How does the tone and style in Wills sections differ from the sections that follow Lateef or Violet?

2. How much responsibility do you think Violet bears for what happens to her son? How much of his behavior is genetically driven, and how much is a result of Violets influence and the circumstances of his upbringing?

3. Look at the scene in the cupcake shop on pages 130-133. What goes wrong in Wills communication with the girl behind the counter that sets him off? What are some of the triggers throughout the story that cause Will to lose touch with the world as others see it?

4. How did your thoughts about Violet change over the course of the novel? What clues did the author give that she might not be what she seemed? Have you ever known someone who concealed a mental illness from the people in his or her life?

5. What attracts Will to the subway?

6. What were your impressions of Dr. Kopeck? Do you think he has Wills best interests at heart? What are some of the challenges that might arise in treating a patient like Will?

7. On page 157 we learn that Lateef “hadnt been able to make up his mind to catch [Will and Emily]. He still couldnt make up his mind?” Whats holding him back? Whats particularly difficult about this case for him? Do you see any connection between the relationship between Will and Violet and Lateefs own upbringing?

8. What kind of portrait does the novel give of New York City? Do you think the city itself has a strong influence on the deterioration of Wills mind?

9. What draws Emily to Will? Why does she agree to see him—and travel with him over the course of the day—despite his earlier behavior?

10. How do you interpret Wills markings in the magazine Violet finds in his room? Why do you think he connects sex to the idea of global warming and saving the world? Does any of this trace back to his life with Violet or his time in the hospital?

11. Wills illness often prevents him from seeing essential things about the world around him, but he also has sensitivities that other people lack. Do you see signs that Will is gifted, as well as disturbed? What elements of the world does he pick up on that others are likely to miss?

12.  What do you think happened to Will in the hospital? Does the account of his time there line up with your understanding of how patients are treated in mental hospitals? How well do you think our health care system provides for people with mental illness?

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

chintanjadwani, March 27, 2009 (view all comments by chintanjadwani)
I was very skeptical about buying this one, pretty expensive, but i'd read so many reviews, couldnt keep myself....n well, IT WAS WORTH IT, of whatever i spent.
John Wray mesmerizes with this novel, one which everybody espec. the youth should read, know where we digging our ditches, a must read..!!
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Product Details

A Novel
Wray, John
D'Souza, Tony
General Fiction
Psychological fiction
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
8 x 5.31 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Lowboy Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374194161 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Wray's captivating third novel drifts between psychological realities while exploring the narrative poetics of schizophrenia. The story centers on Will Heller, a 16-year-old New Yorker who has stopped taking his antipsychotic medication and wandered away from the mental hospital into the subway tunnels believing that the world will end within a few hours and that only he can save it. It's a novel that defies easy categorization, although in one sense it's a mystery, as a detective, Lateef, is on the case, assisted by Will's troubled mother, Violet. As Lateef tracks Will and gains some startling insight into Violet, Wray deploys brilliant hallucinatory visuals, including chilling descriptions of the subway system and an imaginary river flowing beneath Manhattan. In his previous works, Wray has shown that he's not a stranger to dark themes, and with this tightly wound novel, he reaches new heights." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Derrida once described God as 'the being that can never be misheard or misunderstood: a measure of the gulf between the human and the divine, and a sacralization of the ever-present fear that one's words might not be able to travel across without perversion.' But in Lowboy this vast gulf and this constant fear has drifted downward, and fallen into the daily and profane space between ourselves and others." (read the entire New Republic Online review)
"Review" by , “A breathtaking journey.” O, The Oprah Magazine

“Youll tear through the pages . . . A lip-biting thriller to the finish.” Sarah Z. Wexler, Marie Claire

“[Wray] succeeds with a brisk plot and odd moments of humor.  The storys final grimness is tough, but its hard not to admire this bullet train of a book for its chilling power.”Stacey Levine, Bookforum

“Wray is an obviously gifted writer, who treatment of Will is a tour de force of empathy, style, and imagination.”Booklist

“John Wrays Lowboy is a psychotic, subterranean, environmentally conscious, coming-of-age novel.  It is also an affecting and affectionate love letter to New York.  Lowboy is John Wray at his highest.”Nathan Englander, author of Ministry of Special Cases

“Through the windows of John Wray's rumbling express, we catch sight of the deep darkness that lives inside the human psyche. Lowboy is a riveting and disturbing ride, illuminating one adolescent boy's shadowy underground, and giving us glimpses of our own as well.” – Colson Whitehead, author of Apex Hides the Hurt

“America's most original young writer has given us a book for the ages. Compelling, compassionate, and deeply unsettling, Lowboy introduces us to the brilliant sixteen-year-old Will Heller, a hero as three-dimensional as any in recent fiction, a Holden Caulfield for our troubled times.”Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutantes Handbook and Absurdistan

“Wrays captivating third novel drifts between psychological realities while exploring the narrative poetics of schizophrenia. . . . Wray deploys brilliant hallucinatory visuals, including chilling descriptions of the subway system and an imaginary river flowing beneath Manhattan. In his previous works, Wray has shown that hes not a stranger to dark themes, and with this tightly wound novel, he reaches new heights.” – Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Wray presents a powerful and vivid portrait of Will's mental state, believably entering into his apocalyptic vision of the world.” – Library Journal

Lowboy sucks you into the tunnels under NY and doesn't let you go until its perfect ending. Wray effortlessly portrays the cracked and distorted mind of his teenage hero. What a beguiling novel.” –Tim Pears, author of In The Place of Fallen Leaves

“Comparisons to J. D. Salingers The Catcher in the Rye or Stephen Chboskys The Perks of Being a Wallflower are inevitable.” Karen E. Brooks-Reese, School Library Journal

"Review" by , "'The novel has a thriller-like pace, and Wray keeps us riveted and guessing, finding chilling rhetorical and pictorial equivalents for Wills uniquely dysfunctional perspective... The suspense is expertly maintained, straight through the novels dreamlike climactic encounter and heart-wrenching final paragraph. The opening pages recall Salingers Holden Caulfield, but the denouement and haunting aftertaste may make the stunned reader whisper "Dostoevsky.' Yes, it really is that good.'" (starred)
"Review" by , "Lowboy is uncompromising, gripping and generally excellent . . . One of the novels many pleasures is just going along: putting yourself fully in the hands of the story and its author, being drawn in, gradually immersed, making the connections . . . By the time it all falls into place, the reader is long hooked and turning back is not an option . . . This is a meticulously constructed novel, immensely satisfying in the perfect, precise beat of its plot . . . I'd be proud to be seen reading this novel on the downtown 6, or anywhere else at all."
"Synopsis" by ,

A wholly original breakthrough novel driven by intense psychological insight and a fast-paced plot—set over a single day in New Yorks subway system.

"Synopsis" by ,

From an award-winning “savvy storyteller”* comes a page-turning, zeitgeist-capturing novel of a young couple who turn to drug trafficking to make it through the recession.

James and Kate are golden children of the late twentieth century, flush with opportunity. But an economic downturn and an unexpected pregnancy send them searching for a way to make do.

A winter in the mountains of California’s Siskiyou County introduces a tempting opportunity. A friend grows prime-grade marijuana; if James transports just one load from Cali to Florida, he’ll pull down enough cash to survive for months.

James navigates life as a mule, then a boss—from moneyhungry friends to gun-toting drug lords, from Sacramento to Tallahassee, from just making the weight move cross-country to making thousands of dollars a day. The risks keep rising, forcing him to the next criminal level. A kidnapping, a shootout, a bank vault—it all culminates in a swirl of action.

Absorbing and timely,Muleperfectly captures the anxieties of plunging into the criminal world and of being a young person making do in a moment when the American Dream you never had to believe in—because it was handed to you, fully wrapped and ready to go at the takeout window— suddenly vanishes from the menu.

*Entertainment Weekly

"Synopsis" by ,
Early one morning in New York City, Will Heller, a sixteen-yearold paranoid schizophrenic, gets on an uptown B train alone. Like most people he knows, Will believes the world is being destroyed by climate change; unlike most people, hes convinced he can do something about it. Unknown to his doctors, unknown to the police—unknown even to Violet Heller, his devoted mother—Will alone holds the key to the planets salvation. To cool down the world, he has to cool down his own overheating body: to cool down his body, he has to find one willing girl. And he already has someone in mind.
Lowboy, John Wrays third novel, tells the story of Wills fantastic and terrifying odyssey through the citys tunnels, back alleys, and streets in search of Emily Wallace, his one great hope, and of Violet Hellers desperate attempts to locate her son before psychosis claims him completely. She is joined by Ali Lateef, a missing-persons specialist, who gradually comes to discover that more is at stake than the recovery of a runaway teen: Violet—beautiful, enigmatic, and as profoundly at odds with the world as her son—harbors a secret that Lateef will discover at his own peril.
Suspenseful and comic, devastating and hopeful by turns, Lowboy is a fearless exploration of youth, sex, and violence in contemporary America, seen through one boys haunting and extraordinary vision.

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