Heyo and welcome to this week’s edition of Boozy Books!
So, if you’ll recall from Monday, I’m having some issues getting writing done because of a lack of dedicated writing space and, because of that, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I tried a new writer — V. E. Schwab — but it didn’t work out (I still haven’t finished the book and dunno that I will), so I turned to the tried-and-true staples of my bookshelf. That included a lot of nonfiction (concurrent reads of several books on Tudor England and the book The New Jim Crow), but also a re-read of Thursday Next (yes, again). Then I realized I really hadn’t read anything I could do for Boozy Books this week, so I scanned my bookshelves (even in a smaller apartment, I made sure I had my books) in search of something new.
All animals are created equal.
I am 100% sure you know that line. You know it well. And I’m also reasonably sure you know the other half:
All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
A lot of people talk about 1984. It’s one of the most iconic books out there, and great swathes of it have entered our lexicon. Almost everyone I know has read the last line and groaned in frustration (or rage, in my case) as the futility of the characters’ efforts came crashing down on them. It’s still chillingly relevant in a world where the pervasive nature of government spying has become a real concern.
I like Animal Farm better. Probably because, for me, it isn’t so unrelentingly bleak. In the end, the animals realize that the pigs have become indistinguishable from the humans they once overthrew. They see that something is wrong. It’s not much, but that realization means a lot to me. “He loved Big Brother,” means Winston is broken. The end of Animal Farm is an awakening of sorts. I like to believe it leads to discontent. I know, historically, it didn’t lead to some sort of overthrow of the Soviet system. The Soviet Union went from Stalin to Khrushchev (mini-Stalin) to the zalstoi (stagnation) of Brezhnev and, ultimately, glasnost. It died a whimpering death. But I like to think the animals of Animal Farm managed to take down that awful Napoleon. (I really like to think Napoleon’s head ended up on a stick.)
George Orwell is one of my favorite authors. His writing resonates with me, both in its style and its substance. I’ve read a great many of his non-fiction pieces as well as his fiction, and it is always a joy to fall back into them. (Joy being a relative term, of course, given his works’ tendency to be rage-inducing.) But, to this day, it’s Orwell’s allegory of the Russian Revolution (which I studied extensively in university) that resonates with me the most. I still cry over Boxer and rage at Napoleon’s rewriting of history and use of Animalism’s dogma as propaganda. And I always feel sorry for Snowball/Trotsky, who does all the work and then gets punished for it because his counterpart wants power.
Anyway… what should we drink? Vodka is out. A polemic look at the Soviet system can’t be read with Vodka (and I’m not some sort of hipster ironic drinker, so I can’t condone that, either). Whisky is out because the pigs begin to drink it, changing the laws so they can do so. So, let’s turn to Orwell himself. The man wrote an essay in 1946 called “A Nice Cup of Tea”, so I think it’s absolutely necessary to recommend a nice cup of tea. Orwell’s favorite brand was from Fortnum and Mason (which is apparently a high-end store in England; this American totally had to look that up), but I’m sure he’d be cool with you drinking your favorite. If not, he’d want you to drink a nice English beer (but never lager– never, ever lager).
But! If, say, you wanted to get some vengeance on those pigs… why not try this Maple Bacon Old Fashioned? Yes, technically, Bourbon is whiskey, but it’s good, American whiskey and, as such, has an E in it. Totally different. Or you could just skip the bacon alcohol and eat bacon while you read. Be careful of the grease, though. You don’t want to stain your pages.
Well, this has been Boozy Books! We’ll be back tomorrow with some Shakespeare!