Death by Misadventure


I admittedly don’t read much fiction. I’m more drawn to nonfiction…not sure why. But when I read a novel like Under the Volcano, I admonish myself and say, “Self, you should really read more fiction.”

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry definitely deserves its #11 spot in the Modern Library’s top 100 novels list. It is beautifully written in spots, raw, heartbreaking, confusing as hell in spots…as a reader, I was totally immersed in a world I know nothing about: the world of a raging alcoholic Englishman living in Mexico in the 1930s.

Unfortunately for Malcolm Lowry, the book is a bit autobiographical. He too was an alcoholic, and died at the age of 47. The coroner noted that his was a “death by misadventure.” Wow, what a phrase. Not “accidental.”  Death by misadventure. And it’s true. He apparently died of an overdose. I don’t see that as an accident, per se. Getting hit by a car is an accident. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is an accident. Fighting with your demons and obsessions, fighting against your own self-destruction…and losing—that, to me, is a misadventure.



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