Book #11-Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

I was hoping to enjoy Under the Volcano, but unfortunately I did not.  My initial trepidation was fueled by knowledge that the author, Malcolm Lowry has been compared to his idol, James Joyce.  This is an opinion we most certainly do not share.

It is obvious that Lowry was a talented writer, however, he decided to focus on copying a style rather than just on good writing and the result is a great story with interesting characters that the reader can barely get through.  It is really a shame as I think this could have been a much better book.

It was evident that Lowry had first hand knowledge of an alcoholic life and was influenced by the Spanish Civil War, but there was too much ambiguousness with regards to either making this a difficult read where the reader will likely miss numerous intended messages.

I think I would still enjoy Mr. Lowry’s company and think he’d be a great story teller who would hopefully allow for many points of clarification.

Quotes worth noting:

“Have you gone mad?”  M. Laruelle exclaimed at last.  “Am I to understand that your wife has come back to you, something I have seen you praying and howling for under the table–really under the table…And that you treat her indifferently as this, and still continue only to care where the next drink’s coming from?”

But the boys were dropping off, one by one, and the gaiety, short-lived as a burst of sunlight, departed.  Brutal-looking candelabra cactus swung past, a ruined church, full of pumpkins, windows bearded with grass.  Burned, perhaps, in the revolution, its exterior was blackened with fire, and it had an air of being damned.


My rating for Under the Volcano is a 5 out of 10.

If you’d like to see the entire list, please visit Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

If you’d like to share your own reviews or send me comments, please use the link below.

Next up, Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh…

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