LeeAnn Heringer's Reviews > Under the Volcano

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
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Oct 07, 2012

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bookshelves: 20th-century, mexico, modern-library-100-best, one-day-wonders, read-in-2012, time-100-best-novels
Read from August 14 to October 07, 2012

Under the Volcano is a highlight of 20th century literature and considered one of the best modern novels in the world. I'm not sure there is anything I could say to promote or disparage it that would move the needle on the appreciation of it.

To me this novel was infuriating. Part of it were amazing, poetic, glowing descriptions of the characters moving through the landscape. The attention to detail, the crafting of a scene, the character of his wife who when you finally get her backstory, it pierces you. There were entire paragraphs which burned into my brain like ball lightening, illuminating life and the world we live in. But the main character, the narrator, the least interesting character in the book, is a man drinking himself to death and the story (as he gets progressively drunker and drunker) becomes more about his hallucinations, his dreams, his fragmented, unfinished thoughts, his difficulties understand what's going on around him, well, lost me. This is probably what it feels like to drink yourself to death, to put yourself in harms way because you are too drunk to avoid, to just get up and walk out the door when you see trouble, to chase off everyone who loved you and could have had your back, but these parts are not a pleasant read.

The over-arching theme that you can't allow anyone to love you if you can love yourself and you can't live without love is repeated in the story to make sure you "get it". But those beautiful poetic scenes, they took my breath away. A very mixed bag.
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