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Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (Excerpt)

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (Excerpt)

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Former British consul Geoffrey Firmin lives alone with his demons in the shadow of two active volcanoes in South Central Mexico. Gripped by alcoholism, Geoffrey makes one last effort to salvage his crumbling life on the day that his ex-wife, Yvonne, arrives in town. It’s the Day of the Dead, 1938. The couple wants to revive their marriage and undo the wrongs of their past, but they soon realize that they’ve stumbled into the wrong place and time, where not only Geoffrey and Yvonne, but the world itself is on the edge of Armageddon.
Former British consul Geoffrey Firmin lives alone with his demons in the shadow of two active volcanoes in South Central Mexico. Gripped by alcoholism, Geoffrey makes one last effort to salvage his crumbling life on the day that his ex-wife, Yvonne, arrives in town. It’s the Day of the Dead, 1938. The couple wants to revive their marriage and undo the wrongs of their past, but they soon realize that they’ve stumbled into the wrong place and time, where not only Geoffrey and Yvonne, but the world itself is on the edge of Armageddon.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Nov 06, 2012
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09/29/2013

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UNDER THE VOLCANO
By Malcolm Lowry
TWO MOUNTAIN CHAINS TRAVERSE the republic roughly from north
 
to
 
south, forming between them a number of valleys and plateaus.Overlooking one of these valleys, which is dominated by two volcanoes,lies, six thousand feet above sea level, the town of Quauhnahuac. It issituated well south of the Tropic of Cancer, to be exact on the nineteenth parallel, in about the same latitude as the Revillagigedo Islands to the westin the Pacific, or very much further west, the southernmost tip of Hawaii— and as the port of Tzucox to the east on the Atlantic seaboard of Yucatánnear the border of British Honduras, or very much further east, the town of Juggernaut, in India, on the Bay of Bengal.The walls of the town, which is built on a hill, are high, the streets andlanes tortuous and broken, the roads winding. A fine American-stylehighway leads in from the north but is lost in its narrow streets and comesout a goat track. Quauhnahuac possesses eighteen churches and fifty-sevencantinas. It also boasts a golf course and no less than four hundredswimming pools, public and private, filled with the water that ceaselessly pours down from the mountains, and many splendid hotels.The Hotel Casino de la Selva stands on a slightly higher hill just outsidethe town, near the railway station. It is built far back from the main highwayand surrounded by gardens and terraces which command a spacious view inevery direction. Palatial, a certain air of desolate splendour pervades it. For it
 
 
is no longer a Casino. You may not even dice for drinks in the bar. Theghosts of ruined gamblers haunt it. No one ever seems to swim in themagnificent Olympic pool. The springboards stand empty and mournful. Its jai-alai courts are grass-grown and deserted. Two tennis courts only are keptup in the season.Towards sunset on the Day of the Dead in November, 1939, two men inwhite flannels sat on the main terrace of the Casino drinking anís. They had been playing tennis, followed by billiards, and their racquets, rainproofed,screwed in their presses—the doctor’s triangular, the other’s quadrangular— lay on the parapet before them. As the processions winding from thecemetery down the hillside behind the hotel came closer the plangent soundsof their chanting were borne to the two men; they turned to watch themourners, a little later to be visible only as the melancholy lights of their candles, circling among the distant, trussed cornstalks. Dr. Arturo Díaz Vigil pushed the bottle of Anís del Mono over to M. Jacques Laruelle, who nowwas leaning forward intently.Slightly to the right and below them, below the gigantic red evening,whose reflection bled away in the deserted swimming pools scatteredeverywhere like so many mirages, lay the peace and sweetness of the town.It seemed peaceful enough from where they were sitting. Only if onelistened intently, as M. Laruelle was doing now, could one distinguish aremote confused sound—distinct yet somehow inseparable from the minutemurmuring, the tintinnabulation of the mourners—as of singing, rising andfalling, and a steady trampling—the bangs and cries of the fiesta that had been going on all day.

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