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Wish you were here: Imaginary postcards from the life of Malcolm Lowry
01:30 pm
Wish you were here: Imaginary postcards from the life of Malcolm Lowry

Who wouldn’t have wanted a postcard from Malcolm Lowry? The old sot who wrote the marvelous Under the Volcano and Lunar Caustic. And of course, apart from its literary worth, the receipt of said postcard from Malc, off boozing in some foreign clime, would reassure the recipient that there was no need to lock up the whisky, the after shave or the hair tonic.

Lowry, you see, drank anything—including all of the aforementioned. How he ever managed to get his books written, only gives evidence to his desire to write, and write well, everyday. Writing was the only thing more important than boozing.

Lowry wrote everything down in small pocket books, which provided much of the content for his novels and stories. Alas, only two of novels were published during his lifetime the semi-autobiographical Ultramarine, and the excellent Under the Volcano. The rest appeared after his untimely death by suicide, or possible murder, in 1957. Lowry ingested a large quantity of alcohol and barbiturates, the latter had been prescribed to his wife Margerie. Gordon Bowker suggests in his excellent biography Pursued by Furies: A Life of Malcolm Lowry (1993), that an exasperated Margerie may have fed Lowry handfuls of the pills in his alcoholic stupor. It sounds possible, for who could live with such a relentless drunk? Also, Lowry would not have gone gently into that good night, without filling a notebook or two with his thoughts and feelings, and last farewells.

Since we never received that decorative missive from Mr. Lowry (“Wish you were here!” lost in the post), here is the next best thing a Tumblr site dedicated to imaginary Postcards from Malc, in which vintage postcards are tied together by Lowry’s life, letters and books.

Bowen Island, Canada December 1953

You’ve me caught me at a bad time to write a letter like because I have to catch a boat to an island whence the posts are few and far between. In fact a December Ferry to Bowen Island.

          - Letter to Albert Erskine 27/12/1953


Milan 1954

In Milan I met the translator of the Volcano and worked on it with him for a couple of weeks. It is scheduled for March publication and I understand they are going to launch it with much fanfare and publicity.

          - Letter to Harold Matson 20/11/1954


Chihuahua, Mexico 1937

‘Anyhow I got into an argument with a fellow in a dive in El Paso and it turned out he’d somehow arranged to go as far as Chihuahua by cattle truck, which seemed a good idea.’

- Under The Volcano


Zamboanga, Philippines Date Unknown

……his tattooed arms (where had they been tattooed, ….Zamboanga?)

- Ultramarine


Swansea, Wales Date Unknown

“I had the time of my life in Swansea once. I was playing football down there,” smiled Hilliot reminiscently, “and afterwards we all went round the town, well you know how it goes.”

          - Ultramarine


Brothels of the Orient Summer 1927

perhaps he did genuinely love the sea.. beyond.. the promise of unlimited delight in the brothels of the Orient - an allusion, to say the least: but what unfortunately almost robbed it all of any vestige of the heroic was that in order to gain his ends without, so to say, “conscience or consideration”….

- Under The Volcano


Ring O Bells Pub, West Kirby, Wirral, England Date Unknown

.…a pewter tankard of strong Falstaff & a hunk of Cheshire at the Ring O Bells…

- Letter to James Stern 13 June 1947


Piazza Barberini, Rome Date Unknown

.… and finally for the Via Veneto itself, ….swept in great curves down towards the invisible Piazza Barberini…

- Elephant and Colosseum


Derby Castle, Isle of Man Date Unknown

..and this more than Lazarus of a man he’d met outside the Derby Castle and they went into a pub and drank a pint of Castletown Manx oyster stout together.

- Elephant and Colosseum


Schauspielhaus, Koln, Germany Summer 1928

….he was also delighted when I reported to him that ‘Der Gross Gott Brown’ by Eugene O’Neill then playing at the Shauspielhaus in Koln - by far the most imaginative and wonderful production I have ever seen of O’Neill incidentally….

- Letter to Clemens ten Holder


Jungfrau, Switzerland Date Unknown

….Dream interpretations. Philosophers maintain that two and two make four. But every little doggie knows more. So-and-so said it was a mechanism, to keep you asleep. What the hell, anyway. Dreaming, when reading psychology, of climbing the Jungfrau.

- Ultramarine

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Through a glass darkly: Malcolm Lowry, booze, literature and writing

Via Postcards from Malc

Posted by Paul Gallagher
01:30 pm



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