Irgendwie habe ich momentan nicht das große Bedürfnis, mich mitzuteilen. Wenn so viel passiert, hat man gar keine Zeit und Lust mehr, sich über Dinge aufzuregen. Etwas in letzter Zeit hat meine Wut dann aber doch so sehr entfacht, dass ich sie in Worte packen musste: meine Lektüre von Coming up for Air von Orwell. Auf Englisch, weil ich sie einem Freund schickte (und weil ich das Buch nun mal auf Englisch gelesen habe).

What I read is ‚Coming up for Air‘ by George Orwell. The very same Orwell who wrote 1984 and who is, in my humble opinion, highly overrated. He wrote a dystopian novel that somehow came respectably close to the real future and everybody lost their minds. Completely not thinking about the fact that his style of writing is rather poor and the way he tries (because you can’t say that he does) to tell a story, well, I dare say it is absolutely boring. So I read this book and I had the feeling I wasted my time. I never had this feeling before when I read a book. Every time I turned a page I thought ‚this has to become interesting at some point‘ but it never did. Every word was a disappointment. You could argue that this is exactly what the book wants to be: a disappointing story about the disappointing life of a disappointing guy that leaves you disappointed after you finished it. So here’s what the story is about: a fat, ugly man in his mid-forties walks around in 1940’s London and gets all of a sudden struck by the thought that there is another war about to start soon. So he lets his mind „wander“ in very tiny circles (My life is boring – my childhood was good, I guess – I love fishing – oh fuck fishing – yeah fishing – more fishing! – I should go fishing – but my life is boring) and comes to the conclusion that he has to pay a visit to his hometown. He makes up some excuse to satisfy his wife’s curiosity (needless to say he neither loves nor hates his wife, his feelings for her are somewhere in the middle of the scale – which is just a nice description for ’non-existent‘) and spends a week in good ol‘ Lower Binfield. One would expect some major personality development in this story since close to nothing happens, but there is none. It’s just boring old George Bowling, thinking stuff in a way you can’t even relate, thinking the thoughts of somebody whose most respectable achievement is to hit the middle so perfectly. And every letter of the book is smearing this averageness in your face. And in the end, it leaves you with nothing, exactly as if you had never read it. It’s round, all in all, I credit that. But I can’t believe he did not fall asleep on his desk every half an hour or so while writing it. Certainly he wasn’t all excited about this new shocking masterpiece he was about to produce that reveals the true character of middle-class society. The question that comes to mind is: why do we need a book like this? There is a reason there are barely any stories about average people leading their average lives until their average death. It is because we don’t want to be reminded how boring we ourselves are. We read because we want to escape reality or explore a new world, we don’t read to inform us about the things that we already know, the things we are surrounded by every day. The message of Coming up for Air is that there is no message, no higher meaning in life, nothing to do here. But I don’t need to read roughly 300 pages for this wisdom.

What Orwell did is, he stole my time. Perhaps he knew that. Perhaps he knew that people are going to be upset because reading his book wasn’t preventing them from being bored but rather forcing them to become bored. Perhaps this was the only reason he wrote it. If so, chapeau. Well done. I couldn’t imagine anybody ever putting so much effort into purposely killing the joy you usually get out of reading. The worst thing is that I need to fill the hole Orwell bombed in my soul with words of hate about his works. I don’t even want to think about this as much as I do now.

  1. More fishing!

    Ich hab das Buch nicht gelesen, aber du wirkst überzeugend. Bisher hatte ich zum Glück sehr, sehr wenige Bücher die mir das Gefühl gaben ich hätte meine Zeit verschwendet. Hemingways Fiesta (the Sun also rises) zum Beispiel. Bin immernoch gespannt was du über ihn denkst.

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