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How Salman Rushdie is Fitting In

Discussion in 'Bred Any Good Rooks Lately? (Suggested Reading)' started by bobbo, Mar 5, 2014.

  1. bobbo

    bobbo Member

    You know me: avid reader of Steve King since the sixth grade, for good or ill--and I've followed the man and his singular voice for these thirty-plus years or so, as a constant source of great fiction, essays and the like. Luckily for me, the man has not been stingy in his tendency to share his favorite authors and their favored works with us, the Constant Readers; his recommendations and reflections of all that is good, great, and/or bad-but-enjoyable has not failed to suggest literally dozens of fine writers with excellent chops and a flair for excellent storytelling: Lovecraft. Ellison. Ed McBain. Westlake. Straub, and Rob Bloch, and Bradbury! Oh my...

    I recently came across a "Stephen King's Favorite Ten Books" list, and was not surprised to see Rushdie's The Satanic Verses there, and being someone who can testify that my taste might be well described as at least fleetingly akin to that of our Uncle Stevie, I trotted on down to the Bowie Public Library to see if a copy rested there--alas, Dr. Sleep was devoured very quickly after its initial release, and we've a month or three until the next King novel arrives for consumption, so, what the hey? I've done a lot worse on my own--reading piles of Anne Rice and Hunter H. Thompson and those old mid-80s 007 retreads by poor old dead John Gardner. Though I've enjoyed all of them, there's a shabby nobility in admitting that when in crisis, I go to a professional, Jack: I've always wondered how Stephen King would react (and what would his retainer cost?), if he was aware that I've kept him in my own selfish employ as a "fiction stylist" since the 80s, when he encouraged me to unearth some of the old short fiction by Harlan Ellison, via his piece on horror writing in the excellent Danse Macabre...

    But alas, my local public house of borrower's copies does not include the notorious The Satanic Verses. What I found instead was an interestingly titled and cover-illustrated novel called Shalimar the Clown. "Hmm," I thought. "Well, let's give it a go."

    Seven weeks later (not a proud pace by any means, but my reading is down to a half-hour a day or so--I'm busy, man!), I'm fifty pages from the conclusion of what has been a very interesting, quite poetically sound fable of hope and consequences, told against the backdrop of a more than four decades' worth of one decidedly non-nuclear family's origins and conflicts, in sometimes very funny, often times spiritually irrelevant, and almost always somewhat neurotically tragic adherence to tradition at the cost of understanding. Sounds confusing, I know--but listen, I'm no critic, just an everyday, "common" lover of fiction, and that's my best attempt at describing what I think Mr. Rushdie has given me to work with...

    Thus far I've been surprisingly pleased with the work in general, and I can recommend Shalimar the Clown to any adventurous reader who isn't "put off" by scores of hard-to-pronounce character names and locales, and who won't mind the author really taking frequent opportunities to let the words take on a dancelike lilt of their own, to really play with the language; think Pete Straub in Koko or A Dark Matter and you'll have a pretty concise idea of what Rushdie is capable of. As for the story, like I said: while perhaps not a barn-burner, there is at least one mosque and several villages that wind up firebombed into oblivion, and their devastation--and that of the characters who come to life in this story--is not something you'll walk away from unaffected, I'll wager.

    Just my two cents; give it a go if you're out of stuff to read, and let me know if Shalimar the Clown is something you'd call worth the investment of a bit of time and a place in your heart, Constant Reader. I'll keep an eye out for ya.

    champ1966, blunthead, Neesy and 3 others like this.
  2. skimom2

    skimom2 Just moseyin' through...

    I have a hard time with Rushdie. I struggled through The Satanic Verses (and ended up liking it) and The Enchantress of Florence (meh), and am slogging through Fury, but The Ground Beneath Her Feet utterly defeated me. I've had a go at that one several times, and I just can't do it. I thought it would be easier than some of his others, as I'm a music fiend & it's a sort of rock and roll fable, but...Sigh.

    I'm a smart person, but with Rushdie feel dumb and slow because I JUST DON'T GET WHAT ALL THE SHOUTING IS ABOUT. Tell the damn story, man! Spanish and Portuguese writers love their imagery and the roll of words, too, but they remember that in the tussle, story should be paramount. Rushdie seems like style over substance, to me.
    Kurben, blunthead, Neesy and 2 others like this.
  3. Dana Jean

    Dana Jean Dirty Pirate Hooker Moderator

    Try listening to it on audio. I find books that I just can't hook into always work better as an audio. That was the Scarlet Letter for me. wow. That thing was all sorts of slog. I started it 3 times and just couldn't do it. So, got the audio and managed to listen to the whole unabridged snore fest.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
    blunthead, Neesy, GNTLGNT and 3 others like this.
  4. skimom2

    skimom2 Just moseyin' through...

    HAHA! Maybe I'll try that with his next one. Or maybe he'll never connect for me & I should give up & move on. Lots of writers & lots of books out there, and not every one is a good 'fit' for everyone :)
    blunthead, Neesy, GNTLGNT and 3 others like this.
  5. Ebdim9th

    Ebdim9th A Man's Chord and Author/bringer of Bad Dolls

    Watch interviews with Rushdie... he's a great speaker, a wry and funny guy, insightful, and of course, sometimes inflammatory...
  6. EMARX

    EMARX Well-Known Member

    I have attempted at least three of Rushdie's novels, and have yet to finish one. I always feel as if I'm missing some inside information that is crucial to understanding and enjoying his stories. Like skimom said, they don't all fit.
    blunthead, Neesy, Ebdim9th and 2 others like this.

    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

  8. Neesy

    Neesy #1 fan (Annie Wilkes cousin) 1st cousin Mom's side

    ...just like a bowel disease
    Ebdim9th, morgan and blunthead like this.
  9. Ebdim9th

    Ebdim9th A Man's Chord and Author/bringer of Bad Dolls

    Hmmm, an insightful inflammatory condition....
    blunthead and Neesy like this.
  10. Kurben

    Kurben The Fool on the Hill

    I'm with you there Skimom. I also struggled through the Satanic verses, reasoning that a book that gets banned must at least be powerful in what its saying. I thought it was OK not more. Have tried another of his, dont rememberthe title. but never made it to the other side and thats a rarity with me. One that i really like is the Turkish author Orhan Pamuk. Way better than Rushdie in my opinion. Don't know the english titles but i try translating the swedish titles to english. "My name is Red" and "The Black book" is really good.
  11. Ebdim9th

    Ebdim9th A Man's Chord and Author/bringer of Bad Dolls

    Of course I haven't actually read Rushdie, only listened to him on-line... I'll check out both him and Pamuk....
    blunthead and Neesy like this.
  12. Ragan

    Ragan Free-Zone Committee Reject

    He does seem to love painting a picture more than getting to the point. And he certainly made me feel better about my use of commas and run-ons, with his paragraph-spanning sentences using 5 or more commas. But I just started on Verses and read a small part of it. It's not exactly smooth sailing...

    I'm not a fan of audiobooks, but I do have Verses from an audiobook bundle. If I can't get into it, I might just listen to that and see if it works when spoken.
    blunthead, Ebdim9th, skimom2 and 2 others like this.
  13. carrie's younger brother

    carrie's younger brother Well-Known Member

    Marianne Wiggins, Rushdie's ex-wife, is an author worth checking out for some intelligent and poetic writing. Her novel John Dollar, a feminist take on Lord of the Flies, is fantastic.
    blunthead, Ebdim9th and Neesy like this.
  14. Ebdim9th

    Ebdim9th A Man's Chord and Author/bringer of Bad Dolls

    Interesting book title, considering the plot idea... curious, now....
    blunthead, Neesy and skimom2 like this.
  15. staropeace

    staropeace Richard Bachman's love child

    I thought Rushdie was now female, blonde, and living in France.
    blunthead, Ebdim9th and Neesy like this.
  16. Neesy

    Neesy #1 fan (Annie Wilkes cousin) 1st cousin Mom's side

    blunthead and Ebdim9th like this.
  17. Bryan James

    Bryan James Well-Known Member

    He did something right:


    Not really my style though. (His writing, not Padma).
    blunthead, Ebdim9th and Neesy like this.
  18. Ebdim9th

    Ebdim9th A Man's Chord and Author/bringer of Bad Dolls

    Some of those who were after him might like that comparison, considering Stanley Kubrick has passed on....
    blunthead and Neesy like this.
  19. Neesy

    Neesy #1 fan (Annie Wilkes cousin) 1st cousin Mom's side

    Hmmm - that is right. I think Stephen King said something about that in an interview somewhere once (how Stanley's passing would affect
    the rights to the screenplay?)

    Sorry - could not find it, but here is an interview where he talks about first speaking with Kubrick:

    blunthead and king family fan like this.
  20. Dana Jean

    Dana Jean Dirty Pirate Hooker Moderator

    I forgot this thread was in place. I had the opportunity to see him speak here recently. I tell you, he was very funny, smart and just an interesting speaker. I could have listened to him for hours.
    Neesy, Ebdim9th, champ1966 and 3 others like this.

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