Ray in Reverse

ISBN: 0142000094
ISBN 13: 9780142000090
By: Daniel Wallace

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Can T Seem To Finish Currently Reading Daniel Wallace Didn T Finish Fantasy Favorites Fiction Sale Box To Read Underhyped Books

About this book

Sitting in the Last Words support group in Heaven, Ray Williams ruminates on his short life of 50 years, his episodes of infidelity, his premature marriage proposal, his sexual confusion, the dog he accidentally killed, and the baby he unwittingly saved.

Reader's Thoughts


you start out not liking the guy, think, "ok, we're going backwards here... maybe I'll learn something to make me like him a little more, and then you wait. and wait. and turns out theres nothing to like. just a man and his button collection.


I enjoyed this story much more than I expected given so many questionable reviews. That should teach me something about reading too many reviews!Agreed, not as good a story or as strong a character as Big Fish, but that's a tough comparison. This book worked for me on a different level. I thought the first and last chapters were fantastics bookends for the story and the organizational structure - very creative! Without giving any spoilers, the last chapter was great - very poignant - given what came before. Don't discount this book; it's a short, simple and enjoyable read - give it a try.


In this book, absolutely nothing happens, which is kind of the point. Ray is dead, and in his afterlife support group he ends up reliving his entire life in order to determine the meaning of his last words ("I wish..."). Overall, it's an interesting read despite the gimmicky writing style.


One part gimmick (though Don DeLilo’s Underworld is similarly structured), two parts vignette make for a nicely crafted novel.

Cris Anne Perez

I picked this book on a random library sale. I haven't read The Big Fish yet so I didn't have any expectations when I started reading this but based on the description on the cover, I thought this will be something heart-felt but I was dead wrong.The book is witty and is refreshing. It's been a while since I've read a narrative feeling nothing but entertained. The story is often humorous and delightful. Each of the chapters are stories of their own, mirroring the day-to-day encounters of a man's life. An easy read: nothing too deep but realistic, nevertheless. The dialogues were written excellently, giving life and character to the people speaking. The reason for the two "un-star" is that I wasn't moved by the story. I was entertained but I was not excited for the next page and next chapters. Back to heaven, in the end, I am quite unsatisfied with what he wished for. I am itching for something more or maybe something deeper.


Great idea, didn't pan out so well, other books by Daniel Wallace are much better.

Melissa Lee-tammeus

I picked up this book at a library sale for the sole purpose that the author penned Big Fish as well, which I dearly loved (especially the movie adaptation). This had the same quality - a bit surreal, a bit make-you-think, a bit case study, development progress type thingy. I expected a big moment where it all came together for me and I am ashamed to say, it didn't. The book is tiny snippets of a man's life going in reverse. Some were incredibly riveting and others I kept trying to figure out the meaning behind it and how it tied into the others, and I was at a loss. I know Wallace had something huge to say, and I did not know what it was! Frustrating. I kind of hope this is made into a movie and the producers fill in the gaps for the dense ones, such as I, who just didn't quite get what the heck this book was trying to say. A beautiful, well written book - I love the way this author uses words - but either I missed the boat on this one, or the book itself did. Who's to say?

Ron Fitzwater

Simply love this book

Theresa Maher

Disappointing. Wallace's storytelling ability supercedes many, but this time he failed to connect the central character to the reader. I understand that Ray is the average nobody, but he is just too much of a nobody for me to care about. A neat premise, but a missed attempt.


Interesting book -- glad I read it but not the best thing I've ever read either. I enjoyed the part of the book when he was younger the best.


My second Wallace book after enjoying Big Fish so much, this one wasn’t nearly as good. The book details a man’s life (Ray) by beginning in Heaven with Ray telling others about his last words on earth, and then heads backwards into Ray’s life through a series of related flashback scenes to explain the meaningfulness of his last words. I give him points for creativity, and there are some sentences in here that are so pure it makes you wince. But overall, the story falls flat. When you set up your book with the premise of fulfilling and explaining a man’s last words, you have to nail the ending and the last words. And the book fails to do either, really.


I like the writer and the style of telling the story was unique. I just didn't like any of the characters much.


Not one of the more exciting books ive read (not that it was meant to be).


Enjoyable and quick read, only a touch of the typical Daniel Wallace absurdism. Not as fantastic as Big Fish, but enjoyable!


I figured that since I am a recent transplant to Alabama, I'd give Daniel Wallace (author of the novel that the movie "Big Fish" is adapted) a try. I probably started with his worst effort. "Ray in Reverse", while showing much promise, is hardly a cohesive effort for Mr. Wallace. Eschewing normal conventions of novel writing, Mr. Wallace provides vignettes of the eponymous Ray...wait for it...IN REVERSE (yawn). We start with Ray in Heaven after having died of cancer at age 50, then are given mini glimpses of his life from age 50 to age 10, then come back to him in heaven. Some of these glimpses are really well written...others much less so. If there was a payoff at the end to justify this backward glance of an ordinary man's life, I didn't get it. I still plan to read his other works (based on the strength of a few of these vignettes, which held my interest and were quite compelling) but "Ray in Reverse" was an inauspicious novel to begin gleaning Daniel Wallace's talents.

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