George Orwell Coming Up for Air

ISBN 13: 9781455120772

Coming Up for Air

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9781455120772: Coming Up for Air
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[This is the MP3CD audiobook format.]

George Bowling, an insurance salesman, hits middle age and feels impelled to ''come up for air'' from his life of quiet desperation. With seventeen pounds he has won at a race, he steals a vacation from his wife and his family and pays a visit to Lower Binfield, the village where he grew up, to fish for carp in a pool he remembers from thirty years before. But the pool is gone, Lower Binfield has changed beyond recognition, and the principal event of Bowling's holiday is an accidental bombing by the R.A.F.

Bowling's everyman life is also a sort of cavalcade of England from 1893 to 1938. Written when the clouds of World War II were already gathering, this story of Bowling's journey into his own and his country's past is told with humor, warmth, and nostalgia which will surprise and delight George Orwell's many readers.

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Insurance salesman George "Fatty" Bowling lives with his humorless wife and their two irritating children in a dull house in a tract development in the historyless London suburb of West Bletchley. The year is 1938; doomsayers are declaring that England will be at war again by 1941.

When George bets on an unlikely horse and wins, he finds himself with a little extra cash on his hands. What should he spend it on? "The alternatives, it seemed to me, were either a week-end with a woman or dribbling it quietly away on odds and ends such as cigars and double whiskeys." But a chance encounter with a poster in Charing Cross sets him off on a tremendous journey into his own memories--memories, especially, of a boyhood spent in Lower Binfield, the country village where he grew up. His recollections are pungent and detailed. Touch by touch, he paints for us a whole world that is already nearly lost: a world not yet ruled by the fear of war and not yet blighted by war's aftermath:

1913! My God! 1913! The stillness, the green water, the rushing of the weir! It'll never come again. I don't mean that 1913 will never come again. I mean the feeling inside you, the feeling of not being in a hurry and not being frightened, the feeling you've either had and don't need to be told about, or haven't had and won't ever have the chance to learn.
Alas, George finds that even Lower Binfield has been darkened by the bomber's shadow.

Readers of 1984 will recognize Orwell's desperate insistence on the importance of the individual, of memory, of history, and of language; and they will find in Fatty Bowling one of Orwell's most engaging creations--a warm, witty, thinking, remembering Everyman in a world that is fast learning not to think and not to remember, and thus swiftly losing its mind. --Daniel Hintzsche

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George Orwell
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