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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guest Blog: Bruce Reads Salman Rushdie

Today's guest blogger--surprise, Bruce!--is Bruce Balas of Omena, the bookstore angel (disguised as volunteer) for lo, these many years. When Bruce decided to stay home on Monday and continue his reading of Midnight’s Children, I asked him how it was going, and since he gave me permission to quote him, I decided his detailed reply would be my new blog post.
Part of the problem is that Rushdie is erratic in his story telling and wanders all over before he gets to the main thread of the story. For instance, he will say that in this chapter he is going to tell about so and so, but before he does this, he has to tell about how his mother got the flu and as a result had to move in with her uncle-in-law for three months and found romance but was caught in the act and chased out of the house by her angry husband, and so the main character was without a mother for three months, and the resulting loss of his mother’s love has affected his personality in such a way as to alter his reaction to the sequence of events highlighted in this chapter substantially enough to require a full explanation and so on and so on--blah, blah, blah.

I have figured out how to skip over those bits without it affecting the main thread of the story. To look at the book at first and see 500 pages of his ramblings is rather daunting. On the other hand, his has an interesting writing style, and the parts about the history of India are good, so I have chugged on and now, having read over 300 pages, am getting into it. Tell whoever is also reading Rushdie [I told him someone I talked to recently is struggling with The Satanic Verses] that it took me over 200 pages to figure him out, but it becomes worth it. Besides, think what an attention-getter it will be at your next cocktail party when you drop into the conversation that you’re reading Rushdie!

What do we think? Should Bruce be assigned to read Proust over the winter?


Gerry said...

Rushdie can be a wild ride. I just let go and fly with him. I'm probably missing a good deal of the plot, and all the allusions, but none of the savor! I thought The Moor's Last Sigh was wonderful--but I'm sure I only skimmed the surface.

I just finished Luka and the Fire of Life, which is a lot less demanding than the Serious Novels for Grownups, but worth reading anyway.

I think Bruce's assignment should be to write a review of whatever he decides to read. Nobody should be assigned to read Proust during the long winter darkness.

P. J. Grath said...

I really was kidding about a reading assignment, Gerry. I don't accept reading assignments any more myself, after all the years of required reading in graduate school. And that's actually why I've only read the first and last volumes of REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST. The second one bored me to tears, and I quit!

But seriously, don't you think Bruce's review is fun? I'd love to have him do more!

Gerry said...

His review is fun indeed. I am gratified to learn that even you could not slog through Proust indefinitely. There goes the last shred of my lingering guilt over tossing him aside.

(I knew you were kidding. :) )