Which Orwell? Oh Well

I know, I’m late to the party.

Somehow I had managed to get to my forties without reading any Orwell. Seeking to remedy this, I ordered a book to be picked up at my local library: 1984.

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Except, it wasn’t what I wanted. It was what I ordered, granted, but not what I wanted. There is no way it can be called a blonde moment, and hopefully we can’t put it down to age, but what I meant to order was Animal Farm. But anyway, 1984 it was.

It’s a good book, but I don’t have to tell you that, seeing as though you’ve all already read it. Somehow Orwell made that bleak, totalitarian world attractive enough for me to finish it within a few days.

There are some things that we take for granted in popular culture today, without ever being aware of their source: I have never watched a single episode of Big Brother, but I have seen several episodes of Room 101. I knew of the link to the book of the former, but not of the latter.

The book ends with little hope on offer, as O’Brien tells Smith:

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-forever.

And, in underlining further future plans, he informs him that they are going to abolish the orgasm. That’s going too far.

Stop the world-I want to get off.

On Books And Obsessions

So today is World Book Day.

The school run this morning consisted of me taking a wild, red haired Merida (from Brave-I was given the Death Stare for mistakenly calling her Meridian), and a gun toting Woody along the usual route, turning heads before we merged into a colourful sea of Mad Hatters, Supermen, and Wicked Witches at the school gates. We were greeted at the door by a grown up Hungry Caterpillar.

It was like something from a surrealist’s dream, or a drug taker’s confessional.

My contribution? Well I didn’t dress up. I know, I’m such a bore. But let’s face it, a guy who won’t use his daughter’s Frozen umbrella when it’s pouring down is not going to skip to school as Pennywise the Clown, is he?

No, my book themed contribution was to call at the local library on the way home to pick up 1984. Somehow, I have made it to forty-three without reading any Orwell, which I’m going to remedy after reading Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms.

imageLike all good book lovers, I have a backlog of stuff to get through, and this one is next in line now that I’ve just finished Norman Mailer’s Marilyn.

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 This is now the last Monroe biography I’m going to read. I tend to get fixated on a subject, read two or three books on it, then move on to another temporary obsession.

Marilyn is brilliant writing from a double Pulitzer Prize winner. I shall leave you with the moving, closing words of his book, which, appropriate for this day, also name checks another great author:

Once, across the years, she sent Rosten a postcard with a colour photograph of an American Airlines jet in the sky, and on the back, in the space for message, she put down, ‘Guess where I am? Love, Marilyn.’

Rosten wrote:’I have my own idea but am keeping quiet about it.’ Let us not hope for heaven so quickly. Let her be rather in one place and not scattered in pieces across the firmament; let us hope her mighty soul and the mouse of her little one are both recovering their proportions in some fair and gracious home, and she will soon return to us from retirement. It is the devil of her humour and the curse of our land that she will come back speaking Chinese. Goodbye Norma Jean. Au revoir Marilyn. When you happen on Bobby and Jack, give the wink. And if there’s a wish, pay your visit to Mr.Dickens. For he, like many other literary man, is bound to adore you, fatherless child.