Friday, February 27, 2009

So, what's the big deal?

NOW READING: The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

This is kind of like one of those moments when you have been hearing so much about something for so long that it could not possibly be as fantastic/scary/earth-shattering as it has been built up to be by the sheer amount of upbuilding. You know, like Amelie...The Blair Witch Project...The Catcher in the Rye...(ahem)Harry Potter... I'll even give it up to my peeps (of which I have several) who have proudly made it through three decades or more without seeing It's A Wonderful Life. That film IS wonderful, but you're right: it will never live up to all you have heard about it. At this point, it simply can't.

However, I would like to point out that this is only kind of like one of those moments. Because the work of art of which I now partake, the work of art about which I have heard so much for twenty years, the truly big famous deal, is not just big and famous and built up subjectively, and it is not a mere subject of enthusiastic acclaim, but it also was, like, objectively a big deal. It sent Salman Rushdie into freakin' hiding! A "fatwa" was issued against him, and all those involved in the publishing of the book. In fact, I recently learned, several of the translators and publishers in countries around the world were attacked and while some survived assassination attempts, the translator in Japan WAS stabbed to death.

Perhaps more shocking: the fatwa is still in place. If it weren't so murderous and wrong, it would just be pathetic. You want to kill someone for writing a book? Give me a break!!! Only it's not pathetic, because it's a threat to people's lives.

Now, I will (obviously) go on the record as saying that any such death threat to anyone for simply writing anything is so clearly unacceptable it's not even up for debate.

But my goodness, when I finally get around to reading the book I would at least expect there to be something to it. Something shocking, let's say. Something blasphemous and juicy. Something that could at least purport to try to pretend to be "worth it."

Yeah, not so much. It's kind of a silly, whimsical story. I'm 150 pages into it. As a book it's somewhere between average and good, but I am definitely carried along in reading by my fascination that this? THIS?! is what has motivated some twisted people on this planet to be violent. I just can't believe they actually feel justified in doing so.

I was already a huge supporter of Salman Rushdie, just for the idiocy of the whole thing against him. But now I'm reading this and all I can say is -- really, though?

1 comment:

Kim Diaz said...

You would really like Midnight's Children. I haven't read the "Verses" beyond page 1. Lately I'm reading a lot of war stories - memoirs - like that. Just finished The Unforgiving Minute by an Afghanistan vet. And Lone Survivor - also Afghanistan. Last year I read The Long Road Home, by a journalist (female) in Iraq. I don't know what's going on with me, but I'm just going to go with the flow. At least I'm closer to finishing The Iliad (another war story) which is EXTREMELY gory with the battle scenes. I keep reminding myself that this was orally rendered poetry - entertainment in night clubs of old, playing to drunks in taverns much like we do today, hence justifying the explicit bloody action scenes.
Gotta play to the crowd.