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Lunar Caustic

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  28 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
Published (first published 1963)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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Jul 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lunar Caustic is an alcoholic detox experienced by the author at Bellevue Hospital in New York. He brought this tale to the height of a shattering work of art that contains all the themes to make Malcolm Lowry one of the most influential writers of this century.
Apr 13, 2016 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
Mark J Easton
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, read-in-english
I found most of this difficult to follow and quite rambly, the stream of consciousness thing due to drunkenness doesn't help. I did however enjoy the talk between the main character and the doctor, that was pretty depressing in a good way. ...more
Francisco Paniagua
Malcolm Lowry escribió «Piedra infernal» (Lunar Caustic) tomando como punto de partida su propia experiencia —no olvidemos que era un dipsómano que luchó contra su adicción al alcohol toda su vida— en el Bellevue Hospital, institución psiquiátrica en NY. Esta obra sería “el Purgatorio” de la fallida trilogía cuyo “Infierno” es «Bajo el volcán». Si bien nunca concluyó la obra a cabalidad, en 1956, un año antes de su muerte, autorizó la publicación de esta versión como “nouvelle” o novela corta. J ...more
M.R. Dowsing
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Purgatorio of Lowry's trilogy that would eventually expand to a 7 book series. It's set in the town where Moby Dick starts, and features a typical Lowry-ian drunk protagonist. It's also has the classic drunk hallucinations, but with the added feeling of swaying/being on a boat. The prose itself seems to lilt and tilt with the protagonist as he stumbles from bar to rehab. The jazz scenes were particularly great. ...more
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Only around 50 pages but really good, probably the best short story i've ever read. it's about insanity and degeneration. ...more
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
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. ...more
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
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
David S. T.
Jun 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Guardò fuori, verso la città immensa e nervosa sopra la quale l’ultimo aereo della giornata si tirava dietro uno striscione pubblicitario delle Gomme Goodyear mentre più in alto, nella luce del sole sempre spietata ma declinante, una parola andava spiegandosi nella scia di un velivolo invisibile: Furore. Aveva paura. Paura di lasciare il dottore e tornare al suo reparto. Aveva paura… « Gli orrori » disse bruscamente. « Be’… la vede, New York? Ecco dove sono. Son là fuori che aspettano, gli orror
Aug 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
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 rated it did not like it
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!
Domagoj Čavrak
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lowry makes death smell like lilies of the valley.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Some gem lines in a largely forgettable book
Aug 01, 2012 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.
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fiction
Somewhat confusing.
Aveugle Vogel
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"One of the hottest days of all was the day of the puppet show." ...more
Santiago Quijano
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No es una obra maestra como Bajo el volcán, eso está claro. Pero tiene momentos emotivos y sumamente poéticos que la convierten en una pequeña y entrañable historia.
Anahita Solot
Sep 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
دائم‌الخمری که به امید رهایی از اعتیادش توی آسایشگاه روانی بستری شده و نمی‌تونه تشخیص بده کجاست.
وقتی فکر می‌کرد دریاست من نمک هوا رو بو می‌کردم و وقتی می‌فهمید در بیمارستانه بوی بیمارستان به مشامم می‌رسید.
تجربه‌ی خواندن کوتاه و جذابی بود.
Jul 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
pieza pequeña de arte. Entre tantas capas de lunáticos sutiles aparece la hegemonía de los que tienen que lidiar con sus neurosis. Encantador.
Jun 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Pretty good.
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Nov 29, 2012
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T.M. Spooner
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Apr 18, 2021
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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.” 7 likes
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