Every decade or so, writes George Packer in his review of Dorian Lynskey’s The Ministry of Truth, it’s the same old line: “[George] Orwell got it wrong. Things haven’t turned out that bad. The Soviet Union is history. Technology is liberating.” But these arguments miss the point: “Orwell never intended his novel to be a prediction, only a warning.” For The Atlantic, Packer asks what 1984 means in today’s America.
“You mean people who are now in their twenties? They won’t care. People who are in their twenties will have already done this stuff, so there’s now a record. When those people are old enough to be in charge of things—which by the way I don’t ever want them to be in charge of things, and luckily, I will be dead when these people take over—everybody will have that vulnerability. When everybody is vulnerable to something it’s not a weapon.” Fran Lebowitz talks to The Awl about old New York, writer’s block, and why the politicians of the future won’t have sex tapes.
In the early eighties, when the writer James Lasdun was working in publishing, he rejected a book by a writer who turned out to be a pen name for Doris Lessing. The fallout? He couldn’t bring himself to read her work until this year. (Related: our own Mark O’Connell’s interview with Lasdun about his latest book.)