finished a while ago, and loved: Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie
I didn't even mean to read Shalimar the Clown, as I have mentioned, but it turned out to be wonderful and magical and awesome. My boy Salman Rushdie is such a writer, and he weaves and spins the language and characters into far-flung locales that feel close to home, serious whimsy, and really personal tales that resonate globally. This book, even more than The Satanic Verses, made me just LOVE how Rushdie's brain works. I will offer up a few sample quotes from the book, to try to convince you of its perfect truth:
"Religion was folly and yet its stories moved her and this was confusing." ( p. 22)
"Again with the religious imagery. New images urgently needed to be made. Images for a godless world." (p.23)
"He tried to believe that the global structures he had helped to build, the pathways of influence, money and power, the multinational associations, the treaty organizations, the frameworks of cooperation and law whose purpose had been to deal with a hot war turned cold, would still function in the future that lay beyond what he could foresee. She saw in him a desperate need to believe that the ending of his age would be happy, and that the new world which would come after would be better than the one that would die with him." (p.24)
"They don't make no glass slippers no more. They already closed the factory." (p. 46)
(and everything else that comes out of the mouth of the Russian landlady who says this)
"The Ass, by contrast, is a coward and runs from danger; however you must remember in mitigation that he is an Ass, just as a jackal is a jackal and a leopard is a leopard and a boar has no option but to be boarish one hundred percent of the time. They neither know nor shape their own nature; rather, their nature knows and shapes them. There are no surprises in the animal kingdom. Only Man's character is suspect and shifting. Only Man, knowing good, can do evil. Only Man wears masks. Only Man is a disappointment to himself." (p.113-114)
An entire passage making fun of military-government "reasoning" about dissenting citizens: the integer/fraction/integrity/India/Kashmir bit on p. 119.
"'You can know a man for fifty years,' he said, 'and still not know what he's capable of.' Harbans shrugged in self-deprecation. 'You never know the answer to the questions of life until you're asked,' he said." (p.354)
"General Kachhwaha despised the fundamentalists, the jihadis, the Hizb, but he despised the secular nationalists more. What sort of God was secular nationalism? People would not die for that for very long." (p.373)
"He named the Los Angeles River after the angels of Assisi and their holy mistress and twelve years later, when a new settlement was established here, it took its title from the river's full name, becoming El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciúncula, the Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Very Small Plot of Land. But the City of Angels now stood on a Very Large Plot of Land Indeed, thought India Ophuls, and those who dwelt there needed mightier protectors than they had been given, A-list, A-team angels, angels familiar with the violence and disorder of giant cities, butt-kicking Angeleno angels, not the small-time, underpowered, effeminate, hello-birds-hello-sky, love-and-peace, sissy-Assisi kind." (p.416)
Note: This last one may be my favorite L.A. quote of all time. Definitely up there, anyway.
This is a sample of what you have in store when you read Shalimar the Clown. So much wonderful!
quotes taken from mass market edition ISBN: 0-8129-7698-3