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Paperback Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place Book

ISBN: 0195430069

ISBN13: 9780195430066

Hear Us O Lord from Heaven Thy Dwelling Place

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Book Overview

Malcolm Lowry was a rare talent whose ambition was equaled only by his problems. Struggling with alcoholism and singularly unable to manage his own life, he "believed himself to be hopelessly unlucky"; and as volume editor Nicholas Bradley points out, "the evidence suggests that he was right." This collection of short stories reveals a world of crashing prose in which Lowry draws heavily from his turbulent life to forge a tale of both heaven and hell...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Surprisingly Good

I have read Under the Volcano and a number of his other works by Lowry. Clearly, and most agree that Under The Volcano is Lowry's best novel but he has a number of other interesting works including this collection of short stories. Lowry fought alcoholism much of his adult life and this is reflected in his writings including Ultramarine, Under the Volcano, and in Lunar Caustic. The present set of stories was started towards the last decade of his life, and includes Through the Panama, based on a trip by boat approximately 10 years before his death. It is a more conventional story and one of the seven in this collection. Most of his early works lack the coherent structure of a conventional novel - similar to the rambling style of Ultramarine or Lunar Caustic. The present stories contain that element but some are more conventional and have a beginning and end. In addition to the seven stories, there is an excellent foreword covering the works of Lowry by John Donatich. Through the Panama is a narrative using a diary style to describe a trip, often through rough seas from California to England, taking the Panama canal. It is my favourite and one of the longest stories. It has a beginning and end and includes a side trip to Curacao. There are many references to other writers such as Kafka in this story. It has a well written storm at sea section, and there are many references to other writers and alcohol. The title for the collection comes from an ancient Manx fisherman's hymn. The phrase appears in two of the stories. The other stories are: The Bravest Boat: this is about a small boat launched by a child with a written message for an unknown finder. Strange Comfort Afforded by the Profession: a very short story of a writer visiting Rome. Elephant and Colosseum: about a writer reunited with an elephant after many years. Present Estate of Pompeii: a man and his wife visit the ruins of Pompeii and think about life and time. Gin and Goldenrod: about a couple out for a walk in an area under development. Forest Path to the Spring: this is a highly creative and well written piece based on the author immersed in the wonders of nature and his new life with his new wife. I think this is Lowry's best work.

Strange yet comforting

Although I read this book years ago I still think of it often. The Forest Path to the Spring, read today, is very much a story about how to live out of the media, out of consumerism, out of materialism that consumes contemporary society. And suggests how to be content; suggests alternatives to corporations or churches defining your life and your happiness for you(Selling you a life, as Marcuse would say). And this is exactly why we read isn't it? We read to seek the answer to lifes most important question - "What is worthwhile?". In a beautiful story Lowry tells us what he found worthwhile on The Forest Path to the Spring.

Over the Volcano

Certainly the centerpiece of this collection is the novella "The Forest Path to the Spring," perhaps Lowry's only work to offer redemption. It's the counterpoint of his Under the Volcano, the Paradiso to Volcano's Inferno. In a "northern paradise" like that daydreamed by Yvonne in Under the Volcano, (and like the Lowrys' own Dollarton beach shack) the narrator faces his demons and routs them. Like Thoreau, he learns to live deliberately, to see the world itself. Lowry's descriptions of the Canadian wilderness are lyrical without being fanciful; instead of the internal phantasmagoria of Geoffrey Firmin's haunted mind, "The Forest Path to the Spring" gives us a real forest, real stars, a real spring. The story can be read as fiction and as a meditation on the nature of reality. It's Lowry's most mature work and, if not his best, a close second to UTV. The other stories in the collection, often featuring Lowryesque writer-protagonists, play with conjunctions of art and life. In the metafictional "Through the Panama," snippets of history, travelogues, poems, and children's songs weave throughout a journey through the Panama canal. In other stories, an author unexpectedly meets, in a zoo, the elephant who inspired his best-selling comic novel, and a disillusioned writer finds "strange comfort" in the impoverished and unhappy lives of Keats and Poe. Ironically, most of the pieces in "Hear Us O Lord" were not published in Lowry's lifetime. Those that were ("The Bravest Boat") are the weaker links in the collection, tamer and more traditional than one would expect from a writer of Lowry's wild talents. Perhaps, again like Poe, he was an artist in advance of his time.

Lowry's life on the Dollarton Flats

I have been staying for the past three weeks a few hundred yards from where Lowry wrote Under the Volcano, which I had already read and which was all I knew about Lowry, when somebody suggested I read The Forest Path to the Spring - the last of these stories - which described this area as it was 50-60 years ago. He and his wife were squatters, owning only the house they had built for themselves, but not the land. The FPTTS is the story of how they first came here, how and why they stayed and describes many things that are unchanged: the inlet, the seabirds, the trees the sky and - of course - the mountains. I go home to London tomorrow, but am so glad to have read this whilst being in this landscape.It's self indulgent in parts, but that can happen when a writer is aiming for honesty and originality, there's nothing derivative about any of it, not a cliche anywhere. It's an inner journey too of course: the real path through the forest contains other journies: his work, his marriage his growing self knowledge and sobriety. Now the area is full of ugly suburban housing with garages and the sound of seabirds is often drowned by the hum of power tools. Much of the forest is now covered in concrete, but the inlet, the mountains, trees and sky remain of course. It's great here if you don't look down!
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