Under the Volcano

Under the Volcano

Under the VolcanoI seriously had to fight not to put this one down. It has to be called a ”classic” for a reason. Maybe I’m missing the subtle subtext and biting social commentary? Maybe it’s more than just a muddled, self-indulgent collection of obscure literary and geographical references and run-on sentences? Perhaps I felt absolutely no connection to the high-minded, culture-spewing characters because I could give two shits about Goethe and the Iberian Peninsula? The fact that there is very little sense of linear reality in this book bothers me less than the fact that the characters≠ non-linear realities mirror actual time so closely it is practically impossible at times to tell if you’re inside a character’s head or there with them in actual space and time. Given the fact that the book spans less than twenty-four hours, and our protagonist downs about three bottles of mescal, 20 beers and several gallons of other assorted booze, may have added to the disorientation of the whole thing, but there is nobody but the author responsible for the unevenness of the book. The thing jerked along like a bus with a broken transmission, at times speeding ahead several hours and then slowing to a crawl and then going off on tangents that bump on for pages and put me right the hell to sleep. In fact I sometimes didn’t even need to open the book to taste of its stupefying effects. I would merely perch the thing on my chest and by osmosis absorb the drag. Lowry certainly does have an encyclopedic knowledge about everything, but reading the encyclopedia would put me to sleep too. There’s an afterward to this particular copy of the book that compares it with books like ”The Sound and the Fury,” which, ironically, is one of the few books I gave up on–and pretty early on into the book. I don’t get Faulkner, and apparently I don’t get Lowry either.

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