Wednesday, November 21, 2012

on "Joseph Anton: A memoir"

This book has been a long read for me. It's been carted back and forth in my bag for a couple of weeks now, quite literally weighing me down. Its been eating away at the back of my mind, making my thoughts swirl around confusingly.

At the end I'm not entirely sure what to say about this of all books. I could start with the easy and state that it is, in fact, quite brilliant. The way Rushdie unfolds his life on the page, the way he choose to tell the story in third person narrative, the genuine disbelief at the situation he finds himself in after the fatwa. It's the story of his life but it's also the story of a modern dilemna we find ourselves in: the battle between Western style freedoms and personal expression and the reaction of fundamentalists against those same rights. Rushdie was really one of the first battles of the culture wars that have been going on.

Although I picked up this book because I was genuinely interested about just how the fatwa had impacted Rushdie's life and because I wanted to hear the story from his side that wasn't the most important part of the book for me. Rushdie speaks to the human condition, what it means to be human. He speaks of what it means, for him, to be a writer and actually quite a wealth of advice for aspiring writers.

I can't tell you how many lines in this book are currently underlined. Passages that spoke to me so strikingly I wanted to be able to find them for later. His writing can be breathtakingly beautiful. It's got its flaws for sure and at times his voice almost comes off as pompous, but by and large I was enraptured just by the way he strings his words together.

Most of all what I want to say about this book is that you should read it. Even if you don't like his style, even if you disagree with his opinions. The man's got something to say and he will make you think.

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