Ride

Overview

David Walton's critically acclaimed debut novel follows a week in the life of Ray Maddas, a man seeking to live a minimalist life by spending his days teaching the mentally handicapped how to ride the bus. With wit, humor, and compassion, Ride paints an extraordinary and compelling portrait of the madness of routine and the intricate complexities involved in life's most rudimentary tasks.
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2002 Trade paperback New. Book is New! Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 181 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

David Walton's critically acclaimed debut novel follows a week in the life of Ray Maddas, a man seeking to live a minimalist life by spending his days teaching the mentally handicapped how to ride the bus. With wit, humor, and compassion, Ride paints an extraordinary and compelling portrait of the madness of routine and the intricate complexities involved in life's most rudimentary tasks.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Meticulously and compassionately observed, audaciously conceived, and infused with a dry wit, Walton's first novel (after two collections of short stories, Waiting in Line and Evening Out), is a small gem. It's a glimpse into the life of Ray Maddas, a middle-aged ex-college professor, now reduced to a trial period as a caseworker for a public agency in Pittsburgh that cares for the mentally handicapped. During the week that Ray gently attempts to teach his four "clients" to ride the public bus system to their menial jobs in a factory, nothing much happens, but the voices and personalities of the retarded men and women become memorably clear. Ray is not much better equipped to deal with modern life than his charges are. Determined to avoid materialistic goals, he has been fired from his job and divorced by his wife. Highly intelligent, decent, considerate, and conscientious, he reads the New York Review of Books and volumes of history to feed his interior existence, meanwhile looking after his widowed mother and two elderly neighbors. His daily routine takes him through the seediest part of Pittsburgh observed with almost cinematic prevision and, during a brief affair with a nubile dancer, into the marginal artistic community as well. These mundane events are infused with heightened clarity, for Walton is a connoisseur of the incongruity and incoherence of daily life. His moral vision, though essentially bleak, flowers into beauty through his laser-like perceptions of character and atmosphere, and his refreshing approach to narrative. (Oct.) Forecast: Praise from E.L. Doctorow and Richard Ford, and a grittily urban black-and-white cover could catch readers' eyes if bookstores give this deserving title some display space. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Short moral debut novel about one man's jaunts through an anti-Pittsburgh so close to an underground that it feels futuristic. Ray has eschewed the academic set for a more focused and intimate association with real life: he helps clients from a Blind Center learn to use the bus system to get around in a cautionary urbanscape, as if he were "a transgender Dorothy leading his benighted band through this Oz of mundane reality." As we move through this hectic, bleary world, we also move through Ray's life, visiting his mother, hearing of his ex-wife, Arlene, occupying a kind of alter-city based on bus schedules and the unique topography of Pittsburgh, PA. Although the story begins on this interesting terrain, it soon executes a bus's awkward three-point turn back to familiar territory: the adventures of writing instructors at the University of Pittsburgh, where Walton (stories: Waiting in Line, not reviewed) teaches. This puts it into the same category as Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys and, less directly, Chuck Kinder's Honeymooners, though it isn't quite as successful as either. Ray is soon attending parties of Pitt writing instructors, engaging in random sexual encounters with ex-colleagues of his ex-wife, having adventures not quite in keeping with what seemed to have gotten the book's bus rolling in the first place. The vision is admirable, but Ray's near obsession with bus schedules and routine stands in stark contrast to the overall structure of the narrative, whose ride is far more runaway and frenetic. The many references to Pittsburgh may become tiresome-unrecognizable to some, and an already-mined wellspring to others-but the final message is genuine: " . . . all our journeys arechancy, but the intention to do good, like the intention to sin, is equal to the deed." Disorganized in a way that's intended to be appealing, though its combination of humanity and idea never quite melds.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887483776
  • Publisher: Carnegie-Mellon University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

David Walton
David Walton is the author of two collections of short stories. He teaches literature and fiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
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