Dilipickle's Reviews > Coming Up for Air

Coming Up for Air by George Orwell
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's review
Oct 08, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: dystopian, political, existential-philosophical

The book starts off with a cracker of a first line: '"The idea really came to me the day I got my new false teeth." The narrative is witty and thought-provoking but steeped in sentimentality, which in hindsight makes perfect sense. Only that, it didn't make for easy reading. So initially the pace of the novel in the first half is rather slow and I struggled quite a bit, especially through his recollections of fishing. Boy, did he wax lyrically for chapters on end about fishing! It was only by the second half of the novel, once we got past all that childhood nostalgia, that I began to feel like he had something more to say about life and the state of the world. Where 1984 and Animal Farm were political, Coming Up for Air is more philosophical, almost to the point of existential and I quite enjoyed that about it. Even where it is talking about war and politics I found that it does so with a philosophical underpinning. The writing of course is brilliant and there were points in the novel, where I had to resist the temptation to spam everyone's twitter feeds quoting entire paragraphs off the book.

One of the things that the narrative does and does effectively is evoke a sense of permanent loss and inevitably about life. It's the stuff of pessimism but to me, it is also the stuff of reality. The narrator's thoughts about the war and what it does to society, and in particular the politics of it all are relevant even today.

The end was rather extraordinary in its ordinariness and abruptness. In fact I actually flipped the page hoping to see another paragraph or two! On the whole, perhaps not one of his most page-turning works but rewarding no less.

Full review here: http://mydillydallying.blogspot.com/2...

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