Two other stories come to mind, which offer intimate narratives of mental illness, Anne Enright’s The Gathering and John Burnside’s The Devil’s Footprints. Of these two marvelous pieces, “Lowboy” resembles the Enright more closely, because it devotes more of its pages to the internal dialog of the stricken person. This book also has a thriller’s nerve-wracking and inexorable pacing. Mr. Wray acknowledges a few sources at the end; if he’s able to weave such a stunning, beyond-the-pale fiction from such sketchy sources, all honor and glory go to him.
I consider the artifice of Will’s internal and external dialog, at length, beyond compare. So much is devoted to them that the passages take on a life of their own, which seems appropriate given his schizophrenia. It’s all there. Desperation, the genius observations, the hallucinations, the perverse application of his own mad framework to every look, object, and word.
Every look, object, and word in this novel will impress, haunt, and harrow you throughout. I’m sure I didn’t expect this. My only experience with Mr. Wray, The Right Hand of Sleep, did not prepare me for it. Then again, nothing can prepare you for Lowboy.