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Lunar Caustic
Malcolm Lowry
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Lunar Caustic

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  209 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Bill Plantagenet is a British jazz pianist, alcoholic, ferving reader of Melville and passionate about big boats. When he arrives to New York, finds that everything in his life have been sinking and losses, like his own band and his companion, Ruth. His pilgrimage by the taverns of the city port culminates in a psychiatric hospital, in fact a hell, or a stranded boat, depe ...more
Hardcover, 78 pages
Published January 1st 1968 by Cape (first published 1963)
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Apr 15, 2016 Cody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 Pentagrams/3 Swords/3 Goatheads

At 76-pages, Lunar Caustic is slim by anyone’s measure. Maybe it can serve as a crash course for the uninitiated to Lowry as it touches upon all his hallmarks: booze, madness, the sea, booze. It really is quite fantastic and contains some goddamn harrowing passages regarding delirium tremens that left me shaking with memory’s ghost. If you’ve ever had to detox from a long bender, this slender book will have you doing that hebejebe move with your head/neck/shoulde
Mar 07, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Malcolm Lowry began writing this novella In 1936 but due to his turbulent lifestyle he didn't finish it until some years later. The main character, if he could be described as such, is Bill Plantagenet, a piano player who has drunk himself into a nervous breakdown. Bill admits himself voluntarily into hospital for treatment and it is here we pick up the story, told from his point of view.

From reading a little into Lowry's life it appears the story is semi-autobiographical in nature. Lowry himse
David S. T.
Its hard not to approach this book knowing that it was written by the guy who wrote Under the Volcano (which very well might be my favorite novel) and just because he wrote UtV, I wanted to give this novella a bunch of leeway (but it actually set my expectations too high). Originally I was going to give it 3 stars, but truthfully I didn't enjoy it very much. The drunken stream of consciousness of UtV was replaced with a story about his time in a mental institution, and the bulk of the story focu ...more
Nothing in the way of mind blowing. A few sad, profound observations on loneliness and damaged people. The chapter between Bill and the doctor is the real highlight. There is something damning in the response from the doctor that "This is only a city hospital.." to accusations of cruelty and filth. No denial on his part.

I really liked this bit:

"But you see I remember well the last few days before I came here and I was drinking heavily. I remember every movement, every slow lurch, every place wh
Mark Easton
Aug 23, 2011 Mark Easton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Philip Fracassi
A quick, fascinating read that makes you muddle through some dark waters before shining a terrifyingly bright light of malice and melancholy in your eyes. I was happy to finish it - like walking out of a fun house when the power's gone dead.
Oct 31, 2012 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lowry had only two books published during his lifetime - Ultramarine and Under the Volcano. Lunar Caustic, a novella, was edited from several drafts by Lowry's widow and his literary executor. An earlier version had been submitted for publication to a magazine, but Lowry had withdrawn it. Partly auto-biographical, as was much of Lowry's fiction, it's also typical of him. A sailor voluntarily commits himself to a lunatic asylum in New York, the novella describes his time there, the people he meet ...more
M.R. Dowsing
Mar 02, 2013 M.R. Dowsing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a novella about an alcoholic finding himself in a mental hospital in New York after a binge. I assume it's based on the author's own experience as he had a serious alcohol problem, and this certainly has the kind of quality of harsh truthfulness about it that's hard to fake. An obsession with Melville is evident throughout - the doctor's even called Claggart. There's little in the way of story, but the writing's brilliant, although Lowry's hyper-poetic style won't be for everybody. "Unde ...more
Aug 12, 2013 Frederik rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ce petit bouquin sur la maladie mentale a sûrement été lu par ceux qui ont fait la music video «Basket Case » de Green Day ou bien encore le film One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. La matière tragi-comique est cependant mieux traité dans ces œuvres mentionnés, car le livre ne réussit jamais á décoller et fait plutôt penser á un très mauvais trip.
Roman Sonnleitner
Apr 22, 2012 Roman Sonnleitner rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not really my cup of tea...

After a promising beginning, that novella descends into a tedious mess of overly symbolic, but completely pointless stream-of-consciousness ramblings, without any hint of a plot. The end is good again - if only the whole book had been written like that!
Jun 19, 2014 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haunting story of a man staying at a psych ward to treat his alcoholism. His own mind becomes the prison as he experience visions of his time as a sailor mixed with his experiences in the ward.
Apr 08, 2011 Hakas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only around 50 pages but really good, probably the best short story i've ever read. it's about insanity and degeneration.
Domagoj Čavrak
Nov 24, 2015 Domagoj Čavrak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lowry makes death smell like lilies of the valley.
Vincent Odhiambo
Nov 11, 2012 Vincent Odhiambo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
An impulse buy, not being a tome, not much of a risk.
Good start, good finish. Too bad they're far apart.
Jul 12, 2014 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
Somewhat confusing.
G-dd*mmned Good!*!
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Sep 10, 2016
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Soetkin Bral rated it liked it
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Malcolm Lowry was a British novelist and poet whose masterpiece Under the Volcano is widely hailed as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. Born near Liverpool, England, Lowry grew up in a prominent, wealthy family and chafed under the expectations placed upon him by parents and boarding school. He wrote passionately on the themes of exile and despair, and his own wanderlust and err ...more
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“For with another part of his mind he felt the encroachment of a chilling fear, eclipsing all other feelings, that the thing they wanted was coming for him alone, before he was ready for it; it was a fear worse than the fear that when money was low one would have to stop drinking; it was compounded of harrowed longing and hatred, fathomless compunctions, and of a paradoxical remorse, for his failure to attempt finally something he was not going to have time for, to face the world honestly; it was the shadow of a city of dreadful night without splendour that fell on his soul.” 4 likes
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