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Next Up: Under The Volcano

And onward we go. Book #41 will be Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, another novel that will cause me to jump in the cold water.

The novel tells the story of an alcoholic British consul, Geoffrey Firmin, in a small Mexican town on the Day of the Dead. The entire story takes place in one day’s time.

Some quick facts about Under The Volcano and Malcolm Lowry:

  • Published in 1947, Under The Volcano is a semi-autobiographical tale of Malcolm Lowry’s life.
  • John Huston directed a film version of the novel in 1984, receiving Oscar Nominations in several categories.
  • In addition to appearing on the Time list, the book was ranked 11th by the Modern Library in their top 100 novels from the 20th century.
  • In his song “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” Bob Dylan alludes to the novel.
  • Lowry passed away in 1957, age 47, from “death by misadventure,” according to his doctors. That would be alcohol and sleeping pills.
  • He wrote his own epitaph, which said: “Here lies Malcolm Lowry, late of the Bowery, whose prose was flowery, and often glowery. He lived nightly, and drank daily, and died playing the ukulele.”

So Lowry admits to being a flowery writer. That’s not promising. Good title, though.

Anyone familiar with Under The Volcano?

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9 Comments Post a comment
  1. I haven’t read this for ages – but remember adoring it (and don’t think the text was very flowery). I’m going to read along with you this book. Nicola http://aroundbritainnoplane.blogspot.com

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    April 19, 2012
  2. I have not read this one. Perhaps you will encourage me to take it up. I have to admit sad though it is, I like the descriptor “death by misadventure.” Perhaps his physician knew of his escapades and was a bit envious of a life well lived.

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    April 19, 2012
  3. I have read this one, and it is excellent. It starts in the Fifth Act of a tragedy long built, jumps back to show the causes of the decline, and culminates as a tragedy should. It’s built almost like a short story in that way. It’s wrenching.

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    April 19, 2012
  4. I read it a few years ago, after a trip to Mexico. Not for the feint hearted, but a good one.

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    April 19, 2012
  5. Again, thank you for bringing it to my attention. I thought vaguely of Sam Shepherd–his plays for soooo many years centered upon a drunk father and a son captive in a gruesome, violent emotional conflict. I read Jim Carroll, Bukowski, Dostoevski, and I even read The Road Less Traveled by Peck who wrote the amazing book (everyone hobnobs bout it) after he sobered up. Unfortunately he relapsed (fell off the wagon) and then wrote another book I’m not sure of the title after he sobered up again. Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Tolstoy, and a —-load of artists write under the influence–Huxley wrote a very short novella that detailed his experiment with mescaline that he adminsitered in a strictly medicinal dose. A guy followed him arouund with a tape recorder for two days. Morrison (Doors) his poetry, pretty good. I’m very fond of “Under the Influence” artistic ventures and incredibly “Under the Influence” literature by very smart and noted authors. I don’t drink anymore, but when I read a drunk I know that drunk right well. Thank you so much for another good idea. Keep reading. Yep, It’s good for the soul train.

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    April 19, 2012
  6. Haven’t read it, but I had a little taste of his writing in Brit Lit in college. Didn’t care for it, but that doesn’t mean its not good. Good luck with the read. I admire your perseverance. I probably would have shied away from this fight: “Let’s not and say we did.” haha.

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    April 19, 2012
  7. I just attended an academic conference in which one of the presenters talked about this book. He made it seem like he was the only person in the world who had read and appreciated this book, so I am glad to know that his smugness was ill deserved. I guess Lowry was a modernist and has been compared to Hemingway, whom I adore. I look forward to seeing what you think and then deciding if I will read it or not. Based on the annoying presentation, I had decided to skip it. We shall see.

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    April 19, 2012
  8. You made me curious about this book. Nice post

    Like

    April 20, 2012

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