Where is our Alternative Donald Trump?

Nineteen+Eighty-Four+

Nineteen eighty-four by George Orwell Many readers consider this to be one of the most important novels of the 20th century. It sold more than thirty million copies since publication in 1949. Look on GoodReads and you will see it has been given 1,972,594 ratings and 43,570 reviews by readers who rated it 4.13 out of 5. When Donald Trump started talking about “alternative facts” alarm bells began ringing for all those people who had read Nineteen eighty-four. Sales pushed it to the number one spot on Amazon. The novel is fairly simple in plot. It focuses on Winston Smith, in the year 1984 (which was in the future at the time the novel was written.) The world was divided into three super-nations that were continually at war with each other — at least in theory. The story suggests that sometimes, countries bombed their own population while pretending the bombs were coming from an enemy. Thus they could control their population’s emotions; creating a furious hatred of the enemy, loving their own Party who protected them from invasion and death. The Party ruled Great Britain (Airstrip One) by four government ministries. The Ministry of Peace, which dealt with war. The… Continue reading

Best American books, part 2

PART 1     PART 3 LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN James Agee and photographer Walker Evans The book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men grew out of an assignment the two men accepted in 1936 to produce a magazine article on the conditions among white sharecropper families in the U.S. South during the “Dust Bowl”. It was the time of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” programs designed to help the poorest segments of the society. Agee and Evans spent eight weeks that summer researching their assignment, mainly among three white share-cropping families mired in desperate poverty. They returned with Evans’ portfolio of stark images—of families with gaunt faces, adults and children huddled in bare shacks before dusty yards in the Depression-era nowhere of the deep south—and Agee’s detailed notes. As he remarks in the book’s preface, the original assignment was to produce a “photographic and verbal record of the daily living and environment of an average white family of tenant farmers”. However, as the Literary Encyclopedia points out, “Agee ultimately conceived of the project as a work of several volumes to be entitled Three Tenant Families, though only the first volume, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, was… Continue reading

Exit Visa: how they got out alive

EXIT VISA is a factual novel about the aftermath of the Vietnam war, a vivid and gripping narrative, it chronicles the horrors experienced by those who fled after the fall of Saigon.  We have all seen movies about Vietnam, but have you ever noticed, none of them tell you what happened after the war ended? What happened to the population when the communists took over? Why did hundreds of thousands of people flee? What happened in Kampuchea that led to two million people dying?   EXIT VISA gives vivid descriptions of the last days of the Vietnam war; the murder of the Kampucheans during Year Zero; working on the Ho Chi Minh Trail; living in Saigon after the communists took over; the fleeing of ‘boat people’ from Vietnam; the boat journey to Malaysia; resettlement in Australia. This is one of the few books published (in English) that describes these events through Vietnamese eyes.    In this novel a young schoolteacher and her family flee the approaching communist army. A brutal and corrupt police sergeant bribes his way out of Saigon and onto a jet. An elderly jeweller watches in despair as the city and people he loves are destroyed. A Khmer… Continue reading