Burning Down George Orwell’s House
By Andrew Ervin
So, you’ve read George Orwell’s 1984, but do you know where he wrote it? And learning where, would you like to spend a bit of time in the house, you know, discovering yourself, gaining new insights into Orwell and the novel, perhaps penning your own great dystopian tale? And, of course, drink copious amounts, cases, in fact, of great scotch. Then you, the author of this novel, the protagonist Ray Welter, and Jura whiskey are all made for each other. Read on for more about the novel and after check out Jura(TM) Single Malt Scotch Whiskey (because as you read the novel an overpowering thirst for the stuff will overtake you).
Now, about the novel … many of us gripe and worry about our over commercialized society and our ever dwindling privacy. Yet few of us, given the opportunity, would trade it in for something more pre-information-revolution days, something, to be blunter, primitive, say like Bernard Marx attempted in Brave New World (the ideal companion piece to Orwell’s 1984). Because, despite all our carping and what we disparage as the absurdity of modern live, we know we couldn’t exist more than a week without it. Truth be told, 1984 as Orwell imagined it really never happened, which isn’t the same as saying what we have is heaven, or a 1984 world it might not yet be our fate.
But, as protagonist Ray Welter did in Andrew Ervin’s debut black comedy, we may find ourselves compromising what values we have in the name of success, then yearning for a truer, simpler life. Ray becomes an advertising god of sorts by playing a Trump card, appealing to the discontented with a campaign build on utter, in-your-face defiance, the world-famous Oil Hogg viral attack on our politically correct world (the full details of which Ervin saves for just after the midpoint of the novel). When he finds he has sacrificed everything to the campaign, his health and his marriage, he redials his life to the other end of the spectrum and goes to where the people are hospitable, life basic, and Big Brother absent, to contemplate just that: Big Brother and how George Orwell came up with the idea.
He takes off for the very provincial isle of Jura, off the coast of Scotland. There, in the midst of drinking gallons of truly excellent scotch (caution: you’ll find yourself craving your own bottle of aged Jura malt), he discovers things about himself and the world. One of these things happens to be that simple doesn’t exist, privacy, as any small town soul will attest, is a myth; that ultimately you can make your own peace and find happiness in your own back yard, you know, like Candide did, tending your own garden.
But maybe you have to do what Ray does first, face-off against imaginary threats, like a werewolf, and real threats, like people who prefer you not impose your idea of right and modernity on them. It’s a real pain, as the contented Ray might tell you, if you look him up in Chicago, where he now tends to his own version of a garden. w/c