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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Books, books, glorious books

On our way to Canberra, we stopped in the little town of Bungendore for a coffee and for me to explore a little bohemian retreat for book-lovers, aptly named "A Suitable Book." And how suitable and what a serendipitous find it turned out to be! I don't look for things, I find them!

I discovered a book about George Orwell I hadn't known existed: FINDING ORWELL IN BURMA, and another one by Robert Dessaix, CORFU. Both books brought back many memories of my long-ago days in far-away places.

FINDING ORWELL IN BURMA is a real treasure. It's the best thing written - since Orwell wrote BURMESE DAYS - on the totalitarian nightmare that is Burma. By travelling to all the places mentioned in BURMESE DAYS, the author, Emma Larkin, literally walked in Orwell's footsteps and proved her premise that ANIMAL FARM and NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR were part of an Orwellian trilogy on tyranny, of which BURMESE DAYS was the first part. Orwell is now known as a prophet in Burma, so closely do ANIMAL FARM and NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR reflect what has happened in this beautiful yet tragically oppressed land.

In Dessaix's CORFU, Homer, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Sappho, Cavafy and Kester Berwick make unlikely bedfellows but the common ground of their "literary landscapes" is to be found in the narrator's musings while he meanders around Corfu, Lesbos, London and Adelaide in some vivid journeys, with some vivid encounters, pondering literature, friendship and love, exile and home, and life in general.