What I’ve been reading: March

Since spring doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going this year, I’ve continued to hide from the elements in my bed and my indulgence in early bedtimes has given me way more time to read. March’s reading material includes an old classic and yet another slightly off the wall contemporary read:

Animal Farm – George Orwell

This has been sat on my book pile for about 6 years now – I’m not even joking – so it was a pleasure to finally pick it up and see what all the hype is about. Having read a little Orwell before and hearing plenty of other people’s views on Animal Farm, I was fully expecting the political allegory that is the entire novel. It’s no huge secret that the whole book is one big critique of communism and the Soviet Union, in particular. In fact, Orwell voices his dissatisfaction with the political situation in the West as a whole; life under the humans is no better than life under the pigs. As the lines between the two become blurred, Orwell points out the identical nature of two political systems which, although different in rhetoric, are essentially after the same kind of dictatorial power. The chaos that closes the story reflects Orwell’s dim view of any kind of alliance between these two parties (the USSR and the Western world), which, in his view, is ultimately destined to fail.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers – Max Porter

I picked this up in the bookshop for two reasons: a) I liked the cover (don’t judge) and b) it looked different to the things I normally read on my own time. Quickly summed up, Grief is the Thing with Feathers tells the story of a family going through the loss of a wife and mother. Told from the perspective of the father, the two sons and a crow, who is meant to embody grief, Porter plays around with the elements of poetic prose, memoir, novel form and verse to create something pretty unique. For me, this fluidity of form was really reminiscent of the confusing and multifaceted emotion of grief, as well as communicating the disjointedness that is always felt when a loved one is lost. Crow is at once the villain and the protagonist of the peace, taking on the role of antagonising unknown and comforter to the healing family. Crow’s voice is infused with a kind of cryptic humour that both brings us closer to understanding complicated emotions and the concept of death, whilst simultaneously posing a number of questions that we may never know the answers to.