Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Under the Volcano

The fellow aboe is one Malcolm Lowry born this day 1909 in Merseyside, England. After graduating from Cambridge, Lowry would start the wild life that would include his twin obsessions, alcohol and literature. He got himself married in 1934, and it was to prove a bit of a disasterous union. He would follow his bride to New York, where he would enter Bellevue Hospital after a alcohol induced breakdown, and then to Hollywood where he would give screen writing a shot. The lovebirds moved to Mexico in 1936, in one last (failed) attempt to save their marriage. His blushing bride had had enough of him by late 1937, and Lowry would enter a period of deep alcoholism after she left. It is during this time that he "lived" the facts that he would turn into his greatest work, the semi-autobiographical novel "Under the Volcano."
It is not the happiest of novels, and I am sure it wasn't the happiest of times for Lowry, but drunk, lonely, and depressed he churned out one of the top 100 novels of the 20th century (being voted number 11 by people who create these sorts of lists). Apparently he was such a excessive drunk that Mexico just deported his ass in 1938, he moved to Canada, found him a new wife, and sat down to write his masterpiece. The new wife was to provide a more positive influence upon him, and he entered a more stable period of his life. Not that he gave up the sauce, but at least he was not getting drunk and deported, which is progress I suppose.
I haven't the faintest idea how I came across the book, and had no idea what a wonderful book it was until I read it. Get thee to a bookstore, and purchase you a copy, and you will be blown away as well. Lowry came to a bad end, which is no surprise, a few too many sleeping pills and too much booze lead to his death by "misadventure." But, for writing a wonderfully dark novel about a guy just simply unraveling, Malcolm Lowry (July 28th, 1909-June 26th, 1957, at the age of 47), you are my (339th) hero of the day.

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