Reading days…

George Orwell once famously declared, “Four legs, good. Two legs, bad.” Unfortunately, I’ve got two–but plenty of four-legged friends.

Orwell is one of my favorite writers; I adore his work and could re-read any of it, any time. So as I went through the stacks of books in the shelf late last night in the hopes of pulling some inspiration (I always have three books going at once–fictions, non-fiction, and something I can’t bear the thought of not reading at that moment) to read, my eyes grazed over my stack of Orwell and I found myself pulling “The Road to Wigan Pier”, “Burmese Days”, and “Coming Up for Air”.

What’s more, right underneath, is one of the heaviest reads (save for Robert Tressell’s “Ragged Trousered Philanthropists–have you read it? I haven’t found anyone as yet whose tackled it or fancied my sincere interest they tackle it so I have someone to discuss it with) I’ve ever gandered– The Unabridged Diaries of Sylvia Plath. Her diaries might not be something you’d want to read but in the depths of winter; or that might really put you over the edge, actually. But for anyone whose really interested in writers, this is a must-read. She was such an honest, wonderful person, despite the depression and mania, and its quite insightful and soft.

But, I’m looking, from this stack, for a read. I’m leaning toward “Coming Up for Air”, but “Burmese Days” is a close contender.

What would you suggest?

1 Comment

  1. Burmese Days is Orwell’s finest novel — a wild romp through bureaucratic Imperialism with an incredibly riveting riot scene and greater irony and tonal control than anything by Waugh. Unflinching in the way it mockingly portrays the striving of the pro-Anglo Colonials, who each wants to see his white “Sahib” gain prestige (invites to the governor’s mansion for tea, etc. … ) as it gains them prestige in their villages. Much too under-appreciated. Puts the great Passage to India on a lower rung.

    Wigan Pier is Orwell the documentary journalist at his absolute finest. Living in North English coal country and suffering the depths of the mines, experiencing the filth of the hovels and witnessing the harrowing aging (men and women in their mid-20s appear to be 30 years older) and the destruction wrought by drink. Fair to say the great Mr. Blair wrecked his lungs over this book, causing his untimely death at age 46. Keep an eye out for this sentence: “The food-crank is by definition a person willing to cut himself off from human society in hopes of adding five years on to the life of his carcass; that is, a person out of touch with common humanity.” one of many gems from the 2d half.

    “Air” is a lesser work, although nothing by Orwell is skipable except those silly radio bits he did during the War while in India.

    You are lucky to have not yet read these great works. But that is just my opinion.

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