Pursued by Furies: A Life of Malcolm Lowry

Gordon Bowker, Author
Gordon Bowker, Author St. Martin's Press $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-12748-0
Paperback - 696 pages - 978-0-312-16356-3
Hardcover - 672 pages - 978-0-00-215539-7
Paperback - 710 pages - 978-0-571-25280-0
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At age 15, English novelist Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957) composed hymns of hatred against his unloving mother and rebelled against his humorless, authoritarian father, a wealthy Liverpool cotton broker. At Cambridge, Lowry recklessly goaded suicidal fellow classmate Paul Fitte to kill himself, a fatal taunt that left Lowry with lifelong guilt. In this ruthlessly probing biography, British freelance journalist Bowker skillfully navigates the maze of Lowry's messy life marked by violent alcoholism, two unstable marriages and stints in jails and mental institutions as he drifted to and from London, Paris, New York and Mexico. Lowry's novel Under the Volcano (1947), a savagely honest portrait of his alcoholic suffering, is an existential exploration of alienation, exile and identity, but he never produced another masterpiece, claims Bowker, because his energies were diverted by accidents, illnesses, booze, private terrors and his second marriage, at once ``idyllic and Strindbergian,'' to former silent-movie actress Margerie Bonner. She told a selected few friends that Lowry committed suicide. Though the circumstances surrounding the writer's death remain a mystery, Bowker makes a startling observation: Lowry, who was obsessed with dates, died on Paul Fitte's birthday. Photos. (Oct.)
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