Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Looking at life, glass in hand

In Under the Volcano he described the Farolito thus: "Only after he had grown to know it well had he discovered how far back it ran, that it was really composed of numerous little rooms, each smaller and darker than the last, opening one into another, the last and darkest of all being no larger than a cell. These rooms struck him as spots where diabolical plots must be hatched, atrocious murders planned; here, as when Saturn was in Capricorn, life reached bottom. But here also great wheeling thoughts hovered in the brain; while the potter and the field-labourer alike, early-risen, paused a moment in the paling doorway, dreaming..."

In recesses such as these, Lowry wrote, glass in hand. He could not, it seems, leave any bar or restaurant without four pages of notes, writing down life as it was lived. The reader queries which is coming first, the premonitory doom so powerfully described, or the dip and surge of the paragraph that has foresuffered all?

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