Category Archives: goodreads

Review of Lowboy by John Wray

LowboyLowboy by John Wray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A real time look into schizophrenia, Lowbow neither romanticizes nor demonizes the disease or its sufferer. Will Heller is a 16-year-old paranoid schizophrenic wandering the New York subway system on a mission to save the world. His mother Violet and detective Ali Lateef tail him around the city, under and above ground trying to bring him home.

Wray uses his multiple points-of-view brilliantly, eking out information as the story develops, giving us this lovely slow reveal of the situation as characters let things slip, bit by bit. His range of voices is impressive and the language goes from tense to lyrical without trying too hard.

Mental illness is one of those topics that can result in a story that’s tired, weak or maudlin, but Wray treats his characters right and avoids the obvious pitfalls. Against my better judgment I sympathized with Will and the other troubled, beautiful people in the book.

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Review: The Ask

The AskThe Ask by Sam LipsyteMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Ask evoked bouts of uncontrolled laughter and wincing during my daily commutes from my apartment in Astoria to my fundraising job in Manhattan. Why all the wincing? Because Milo, Lipsyte’s lovably unlikeable protagonist, is a mediocre development officer who lives in Astoria and works in Manhattan. This book is a caricature of class, professional and neighborhood relations that skewers the conceits of every demographic it presents.

It is clear that Lipsyte admires the rare person who works hard, has clear expectations, puts forth their best. But he does not fill his book with such people. Instead we have the nebbishes, the whiners, Gen-Xers coming of age in midlife, struggling to find affordable daycare and still maintain their edge. Coddled Milennials spout profanity and expect approval, taking their ambition and paperwork home with them to chicken wire cages in old Bushwick warehouses. The unconscionable privilege of the privileged, the righteous, tragic anger of the non-privileged, and the comical failure of those who squander their privilege.

There are a lot of ideas in The Ask, and you can pick and choose from them. For the most part, Lipsyte’s rapid, wit-infused dialog makes up for in fun what it lacks in believability. Those of us steeped in Joss Wheedon-speak should have no problem with this. Milo is stomach-turning at times, I did get tired of hearing his sexual inclinations to each and every woman he encountered, but it’s forgivable. We’re rooting for him by the end. For all its wild parody this book is spot on in its characterizations, and extremely enjoyable.

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