Homage to Catalonia

I had set myself the challenge of reading 100 books between Christmas ’11 and Christmas ’12 but I can see that I’m going to fall well short of 100 books. Part of the problem is that I’m a magpie with a chapter here and a chapter there. Also there is a couple of books reading in a church history book.

So it’s testament to George Orwell as a writer that I am able to finish his books from beginning to end. There are few writers that I can say that about.

Having said that ‘Homage to Catalonia’ is probably my least favourite book of his, which isn’t to say it’s not a good book (because it is) but that it’s about something that I find hard to relate to. The Spanish Civil war doesn’t really grab my attention so the book doesn’t really grab my attention as much as ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ did or ‘Animal Farm’.

There is one bit though that did stand out, namely the part in which Orwell describes being shot in the neck. It is the only time I remember reading about what it’s like to be hit by a bullet, something¬† I hope I never have to experience.

The reason I like Orwell as a writer is that he is clear and concise but has a sense of humour. Because of that he can join my small (but slowly expanding) group of heroes. Not that hero is the word I’m after.

Animal Farm

So I unexpectedly picked up a nice old Penguin copy of Animal Farm in The Linen Hall Library booksale and brought it home.

Then this evening, just before intended to go to bed I picked it up again and now 3hrs later I’m here, barely awake, freezing to death but happy and Animal – Farmed out.

I’ve never read a book through in one sitting before which speaks volumes about it’s simplicity and readability. Yet the book is also powerful,wise and deep.

I’ve really enjoyed reading George Orwell this year, mainly because I don’t tire or get bored of his writing style for whatever reason. Well apart from ‘Homage to Catalonia’ which bored the pants of me.

So Animal Farm.
How do we rebel against injustice and change things without falling into the traps of power and greed? What does it mean to be free?
Who are the pigs?

Yes, it’s late at night and I’ve tired eyes but what does it say to those rebellions and uprisings that I could get angry enough to join? Do we have to accept that powerful people will always have authority and rule over us no matter what happens in this present life?

Anyway, I can’t imagine many quick reads out there would have as big an impact.

Slaughterhouse 5

I’ve made a terrible stab at reading fiction the past year or so. There was a time when I enjoyed reading fiction, a time before Myspace – Facebook – Twitter.

Maybe its the way that our computer screens flicker and change so rapidly that anything beyond a poem or a page has a hard time holding our attention. Or maybe that is just me.

So I am trying to gently get back into the swing of things and last week in a charity shop up Cookstown Main St I stumbled across a copy of Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf for the tidy sum of £1.

Anyway, I just finished Slaughterhouse 5 which is a short book and a good one to start with.
At times funny but completely tragic, absurd and sad.
I don’t want to do a big analysis of the book except to say that 135,000 people died in the bombing of Dresden towards the end of the Second World War. Obviously this is a novel with flights of fancy but the fact that 135,000 died in the firebombs is what stays with me. Horrible

This quote from Vonnegut borrowed from the Wikipedia page which lifed it from an special introduction a 1976 version of the book
says what he thought of it all

“The Dresden atrocity, tremendously expensive and meticulously planned, was so meaningless, finally, that only one person on the entire planet got any benefit from it. I am that person. I wrote this book, which earned a lot of money for me and made my reputation, such as it is. One way or another, I got two or three dollars for every person killed. Some business I’m in.”

War.Good God y’all! What is it good for?Absolutely Nothing!