Daniel Wallace Ray in Reverse

ISBN 13: 9780142000090

Ray in Reverse

3.16 avg rating
( 459 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780142000090: Ray in Reverse

"Daniel Wallace brings to his role as author wit, a subtle compassion, and an offbeat originality that begins, but certainly doesn't end, with the backward unreeling of this refreshingly savvy novel." (The Boston Globe)

Regret looms large in Daniel Wallace's latest novel, Ray in Reverse, the funny and poignant story of a life, told backward. Sitting in the Last Words support group in Heaven, Ray Williams ruminates on his short life of fifty years, his episodes of infidelity, his premature marriage proposal, his sexual confusion, the dog he accidentally killed, and the baby he unwittingly saved. Ray is Everyman at his very best and his absolute worst-even he can't always tell the difference. Beginning at death and ending in his childhood, Ray in Reverse leads us back to Ray in his innocence, achieving, against all odds, a happy ending.

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Review:

Ray in Reverse is such an exceptionally winning novel from start to finish (or would that be finish to start?) that one can almost forgive its opening chapter. The shtick: Ray's in heaven, and he's joined a group called Last Words, where the members... well, you guessed it, rehash the last things they said on Earth. As it turns out, the dead make for fierce critics, and when they criticize his offering (the incomplete phrase "I wish--"), Ray storms out in a huff.

Not so funny, actually, but what follows is--funny, as well as heartbreaking and all too real. From the second chapter onward, Ray relives the most prominent episodes of his life in reverse order, starting with his fatal cancer and working his way back. Here is Ray losing hair, growing wings, and trying to make his final amends; Ray building his son a tree house and getting drunk there every night; Ray with amnesia; Ray stealing the good-luck penny from his dead grandfather's pocket. The book ends with Ray's last act of true innocence, at age 10: "He was simply doing the right thing, and doing the right thing came to him as naturally as breathing. How could he have known that this was a talent that would be lost over time?"

Ray's is an ordinary life, with an ordinary mixture of good intentions and bad judgment, but it's also one in which extraordinary things happen. In Big Fish, his first novel, Daniel Wallace proved himself a master at mapping precisely the point where the mythic and the quotidian meet. With its gentle humor and pitch-perfect prose, Ray in Reverse is exactly the right kind of fairy tale for our unmagical times. --Mary Park

From the Back Cover:

Early praise for Ray in Reverse

"Funny, thoughtful, full of refreshing surprises, it will take you to Heaven and back." --Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle

"Ray in Reverse is filled with wonder at the world and a gentle sadness over one man-child's baffled place in it. Unfailingly gentle and acute, the book somehow manages to get bigger and bigger as it moves toward its unusual vanishing point. A winning production from a singular writer." --Thomas Mallon, author of Dewey Defeats Truman

"A damn good book." --Percival Everett, author of Glyph

"A delightful, small package of exquisite writing...Ray is real, and his life makes oddly compelling reading--especially in reverse." --Booklist, starred review

Praise for Big Fish

"A comic novel about death, about the mysteries of parents and the redemptive power of storytelling." --USA Today

"Refreshing, original debut...the transformative quality of fable and fairy tale." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"An audacious, highly original debut novel...an imaginative, and moving, record of a son's love for a charming, unknowable father." --Kirkus Reviews

"Both comic and poignant." --The New York Times Book Review

"A magic carpet ride of a novel...amazing." --Birmingham Weekly

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