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Friday, December 7, 2012

Review: Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

Title: Under the Volcano
Author: Malcolm Lowry
Format: Ebook
Publish Date: 1947
Source: I received a copy from the PR; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Geoffrey Firmin, a former British consul, has come to Quauhnahuac, Mexico. Here the consul's debilitating malaise is drinking, and activity that has overshadowed his life. "Under the Volcano" is set during the most fateful day of the consul's life--the Day of the Dead, 1938. His wife, Yvonne, arrives in Quauhnahuac to rescue him and their failing marriage, inspired by a vision of life together away from Mexico and the circumstances that have driven their relationship to the brink of collapse. Yvonne's mission is to save the consul is further complicated by the presence of Hugh, the consul's half-brother, and Jacques, a childhood friend. The events of this one day unfold against a backdrop unforgettable for its evocation of a Mexico at once magical and diabolical."Under the Volcano" remains one of the most powerful and lyrical statements on the human condition and one man's constant struggle against the elemental forces that threaten to destroy him."

My Two Cents:

"Under the Volcano" is a classic novel by Malcolm Lowry. Originally released in the 1940s, it has now been re-released so that other readers may discover it. I love when books are re-released to new audiences. I had never heard of this book before!

I was initially intrigued by this book because of the setting. It takes place in 1938 in Mexico. Mexico is a country that I have spent quite a bit of time in so it is near and dear to my heart. As I suspected I would, I loved the setting in this book. This book was apparently based on an interior city of Mexico near Mexico City called Cuernavaca, which I studied abroad in actually. The town in the story is a fictional place though so it's a little bit different. The descriptions were really, really good. You get a good sense of what the town was like. You get to see the Zocalo, a central square in so many Mexican towns, through the eyes of the characters. You see the greenery. You feel the heat and the lovely breezes.

The actual story also initially attracted me. But the execution was very difficult for me to get through. This is not to say that the writing isn't good. It is but this book mostly seems to be written in stream of consciousness, which is most definitely not my favorite. On top of it just being stream of consciousness, the main character is an alcoholic and is therefore seemingly drunk at the time, which made the story even more difficult for me to follow it all. I found it really hard to focus on the action within this book. The writing is a little heavy handed at some points or at least I found it to be; however, I know that the descriptions and literary devices Lowry uses may be attractive to some readers. It just was not for me.

Bottom line: Great setting, dense story.


 


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