The Voyage That Never Ends: Fictions, Poems, Fragments, Letters

Malcolm Lowry, Author, Michael Hofmann, Editor New York Review of Books $27.95 (536p) ISBN 978-1-59017-235-3
British precursor of everyone from the Beats to Bruce Chatwin, Lowry (1909-1957) published the fierce, feverish Under the Volcano in 1947, and, haunted by that novel's kitchen-sink perfection, worked on other projects but never completed another book before his alcohol-related death. Here, poet and translator Hofmann selects from among the plethora of Lowry's fugitive output: seven prose fiction pieces, a sampling of poems, excerpts of drafts from three posthumously edited and published works and a selection of letters from Lowry's writings. ""Under the Volcano,"" a short story that was eventually engulfed by the novel, appears early on here. The story ""Through the Panama,"" one of two stories concerning Sigbj\xF8rn Wilderness and his journal, mentions his novel ""about a character... enmeshed in the plot of the novel he has written,"" and proceeds through a thicket of allusion to British and American literature. The most memorable (and most reprinted) piece here is the heavily autobiographical ""The Forest Path to the Spring,"" richly evocative of a northern British Columbia seascape and the outcasts who inhabit it. The specter of Fascism, the generations of writers in Lowry's head, and various figurative transformations (""something of vast importance to me had taken place, without my knowledge and outside time altogether,"") play in throughout. The lack of annotations leaves one a bit at sea amidst the often startling flotsam and jetsam, but with Lowry it's almost appropriate.
Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
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