Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Tree of Smoke, a novel by Denis Johnson coming out in the fall. I haven't finished, but thus far it's the best work of his that I've read, and it's very much a novel for our time, even though it's about Vietnam. It reminds me of Robert Stone's best work, especially A Flag for Sunrise: a big historical canvas, a handful of characters of different nationalities, a sense of fated convergence and doom.Packer recently posted a short item on Orwell's diary at Interesting Times.
I'm also reading, or rereading, Orwell's essays and journalism for a new edition that Harcourt asked me to edit. The output alone is staggering: several hundred pages worth of writing every year in the 1940s, in addition to his novels. He reviewed a couple of plays and a couple of books every week throughout the blitz. It's sheer pleasure to open his non-fiction anywhere and read a few pages.
George Packer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of five books: two novels, The Half Man and Central Square, and three books of non-fiction, The Village of Waiting, Blood of the Liberals, and The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. He is also the editor of The Fight Is for Democracy: Winning the War of Ideas in America and the World. He has reported extensively from Africa and the Middle East.