100 Greatest Novels: Under the Volcano & The Way of All Flesh

Sorry for the short break since the last “100 Greatest Novels” post. I had to wait for Under the Volcano to come out on the Kindle. Anyways, let’s get back to it.

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

I’ve never heard of Malcolm Lowry before this. Even with being #11 on the 100 greatest novels, it’s not an incredibly popular novel. Under the Volcano is the story of Geoffrey Firmin, a British consul living in Mexico and fighting alcohol addiction. It’s an incredibly accurate (as far as I know) description of alcoholism and the effects different types of alcohol has on a person. Interesting love triangle, interesting back story. What really blew me away was the last two chapters. Entailing the same one hour period or so from two points of view, the second to last chapter follows Geoffrey’s wife and is pretty quick while the last chapter follows Geoffrey and fleshes out everything that happens in that hour. It’s intense.

The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler

Until now, I have never heard of this book or author. I’m very glad to have been introduced. This novel is about Ernest Pontifex (and the 3 generations preceding him). It follows most of his life from childhood to priesthood to author, from faith to disbelief, and all the lessons in between. What made this semi-autobiographical novel so powerful wasn’t the story or the “hero” but the narrator, Mr. Overton, Ernest’s godfather. His narration, his humor, wit, and insight made the book just incredibly enjoyable to read. His disdain for some characters and his unforgiving interest in others pushes the novel forward no matter how interesting the story or protagonist is at the moment. I highly recommend this book and will be looking into some of Samuel Butler’s other works very soon.

Up next is 1984 by George Orwell. It’s been a while since I’ve read this novel so I’m looking forward to getting back into it. Thanks for sticking with me.

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