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Saturday, 17 June 2006


Martin Amis on Malcolm Lowry:

So the years of Lowry's maturity unfold: binnings, bannings, arrests, ejections, screams in the night, expired visas and lost passports, together with a lengthening rap sheet of domestic arson, larceny and GBH. In 1938 his first wife Jan 'rationed' him to a quart of liquor a day, but he hoarded his allowance to buy 'fortified wines costing only fifty cents a gallon'. In 1947 his second wife, Margaret, noticed that Lowry, after a period of abstinence, had started enjoying a cocktail before lunch - and 'pre-dinner cocktails started as early as 3pm'. In 1949 he was averaging three litres of red wine per day topped up by two litres of rum. His varicose veins stretched from groin to ankle. One morning he collapsed and started 'vomiitng black blood'. We then duly witness the straitjacket, the padded cell, and the serious discussion, with wife and doctors present, on the pros and cons of lobotomy.

Towards the end, even Lowry's freak accidents and cluster catastrophes are assuming an air of the dankest monotony. An average hour, it seems, would include a jeraboam of Windolene or Optrex, a sanguinary mishap with a chainsaw or a cement-mixer and a routinely bungled attempt to guillotine his wife.

Thank fuck he never discovered an off licence selling el cheapo Primus Premium Belgian Beer.

(Amis Extract from a review of Pursued by Furies by Gordon Bowker in The War Against Cliche Jonathan Cape, 2001.)

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

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