I am an aspiring writer. I love all things philosophy and anything bound between two covers.
I live to read & I exist to write.
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So, in typical impulsive Kayla fashion, a couple of days ago I rushed out to the main library in Luton, with the intentions of selecting A book for myself to read, yes, singular, and ended up leaving with eight. One of these being ‘Tony Parsons - Starting Over’. I should mention the fact that once back, safely in London, I somehow found myself fixed neatly between the four walls of Foyles Bookstore, staring up at the books they had on show for their latest ‘3 for 2’ deal, and walked away with a further four books. But, we’ll leave the details of that for another day.
‘Starting Over’ is a book that tackles contemporary emotional issues, the hardships of ordinary life, and the common struggle for meaning and fulfilment. It’s about a man named George Bailey, a middle-aged police man, given a second chance to live through a heart transplant. He’s been given the heart of a 19 year old male, which apparently, through the work of the phenomenon that is ‘cellular memory’ alters his life drastically.
The author does a very good job of tapping into and exploiting the readers’ inner empath. He uses examples that we can all relate to, or at least dream of relating to at some point in the near or distant future - who knows.
I would say that the pace of the book is quite slow, and at times doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere at all, anytime soon and at times, if it wasn’t for the fact that I knew better than to approach it anticipant a story, rich in happenings, I would probably have closed the book long before I got to the end - sorry Tony. The only character you really engage with emotionally is George, but given the nature of the book, I’m guessing the author, to help us feel the effects of distancing that George is feelings, intended it this way.
Nothing out of the ordinary occurs and I can appreciate this, because sometimes it’s nice to delve into a bit of fiction that doesn’t seem as if it’s battled a long and exhaustive marriage to reality, and has woken up, broken free and is on the path to finding itself again, turned into a samurai along the way and ended up living on Jupiter with three Seahorses and the Da Vinci Code. No pun intended. No pun at all.
Admittedly, slightly intimidated by this famous author, and his equally famous title, my challenge lies in writing this title a review that gives it the justice it deserves.
Animal Farm is a short fictional work, in which the animals at ‘Manor Farm’ grow tired of laborious work with next to no benefits and living inferior to the humans who own and man the farm. One day, Old Major, the animal who seems to have natural assumed a leading role amongst the animals, declares that the time has come for a relvoution, and humans are the enemy (soon to be ironic) and, with each and every other animal, draws up a set of laws, the ‘Seven Commandments’ that ever farm animal must live be to lead an enjoyable life. Before Old Major gets to see his revolution every carried out, he passes away and soon after, the animals carry it through, causing Jones – the farmer, and his family to desert the farm for good.
As the years pass on, contrary to Major’s vision, the animals do not live equally among one another (which happened to be the most important commandment of them all), but instead, leadership roles are gradually assumed by the most intellectual animals of them all, and even though the humans are long gone, the animals of the farm fall back into a hierarchical cycle. Orwell is said to have based ‘Animal Farm’, on the Soviet Revolution of Russia, and based Napoleon, the new ‘Leader’ on Stalin and this is astonishingly clear, throughout.
Now, I love animals and I love a bit of revolution, so, upon reading the blurb of this book, I ran straight for the till to purchase, run home and read. Upon discovering that the entire thing was in fact written in reference to Stalin and Soviet Russia, I did at first let out a slightly hyperbolic ‘the-world-is-going-to-end-and-low-and-behold-just-my-effing-luck-I’m-Stuck-with-this’, sigh. I studied Stalin, I over-studied Stalin, I hate Stalin and I’m bored of Stalin. I couldn’t believe my luck in stumbling across the perfect animal story, exectued by the perfect author, about the how perfect it is that these animals will overthrow humans and stage a revolution (perfect conditions) and here this book was, tarnished, before I’d even opened it, with the perfect analogy. Anyway, once I’d gotten over my dismay, I’d come to realise that likening an animal revolution to Soviet Russian Revolution probably WAS the perfect anaolgy, and 102 pages later, I had come to learn that it was, it really was. And, dare I say it, the only criticism I have of this title, is that as a story, a creative piece of literature, events are descibed almost concretely as the happened. The concept is a work of pure genius, but the plot itself, suffers the untimely fate of over-staying its welcome and spreading its jam a little too thinly.
George Orwell, anthopomiorpshises a cast of farm animals in the most effective of ways, to reveal to the world, animals and humans alike, the other side, the more nasty side of revolution. The phrase ‘All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others’ which is painted across the front of the book, sums up and generalises beyond the animal race, in 12 perfect words’, exactly why in both the human world, universally, and the animal kingdom, universally, things are ordered exactly the way they are. Animal Farm could not have done a better job in showing that potentially, no matter how many times protocol is abandoned, no matter how unpopular it is, there is a common and ingrained ugliness that runs through all (arguably) ‘conscious’ beings, that will probably never be eradicated: The will to power.
A book that confirms our deepest fears as quickly as it shocks and stuns, ‘Animal Farm’ delivers the harshest reality of life, ultimately, human life, to its readers in a sublty comic, painfully ironic and utterly charming way.