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Saturday, January 21, 2006


Montreal Simon

Hi John

Interesting question. I think his next great book, or series of essays, would have been based in post war America. He would have been drawn to it by its exuberant energy and growing power. And by the anti-communist witch hunts of the time. He might have been acclaimed by the McCarthyist forces for a while. But he soon would have alienated them. The hysteria and the kangaroo hearings and trials would have stirred memories of Spain.He might have felt guilty about making that list of Communist sympathizers. His book would probably have been about how a free society can degrade itself by using authoritarian tactics to fight its enemies. Only to end up just like them. A kind of human version of Animal Farm! At any rate I'm sure he would have been caught between both sides in the Cold War. A lonely voice for democratic socialism, despised by both sides.
And loving it.
I like to think that anyway, for he remains one of my heroes.
But there is always room for this fantasy...
My Trip Across America by George Orwell.
And it starts like this. "When I first met the writer who was offering me a ride in an automobile to California, I formed a distinctively bad impression.He was a rough looking fellow, a young French Canadian lumberjack from one of those small working house towns along the mighty St Lawrence. But he spoke passable English and even claimed to be a writer.His name was Jack Kerouac. I didn't know then, but we were in for a remarkable automobile ride..."

He went on to become one of the founding fathers of the Beatnik movement before returning to live out his last days in little cottage in Devon.

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