You can now listen to Salman Rushdie’s mellifluous British tones in an interview on NPR (thanks, Abhi). The PR tufan bears all the hallmarks of a practiced public speaker: note the near-total absence of fillers like ‘um.’
Now that I think about it, although I’ve bumped into him at Midnight’s Children the play, I don’t think I’ve ever heard his voice before. As usual, it’s not quite how I imagined it.
Here’s a lame, anti-epic review of Shalimar the Clown, which I rather enjoyed, in the NYT. I place it far above Fury and just a hair below his best work, but it’s a clear return to form.
Cascading clauses are a Rushdie trademark; they can be taken as a manifestation of abundant imagination or as a symptom of poor writerly discipline.. It’s hard, though, to see them as anything but laziness when they’re misapplied…
As a rule, Rushdie’s characters lack a plausible inner life; instead they have bizarre quirks, unusual looks or magical powers, like the figures in a fable… For the creation of such a description-mad writer, Rushdie’s Pachigam remains stubbornly hazy: How big is it? How developed? How many rooms do the houses have and what are they made of? Do they have electricity? Are the roads paved? Your guess, even if you haven’t read the book, is as good as mine. [Link]
Yes, and please specify the width of the caulking in the bathrooms. Reviewer please. This kind of dis on Rushdie is not only widespread, it’s absurd. Don’t hate on the book just because you don’t dig the genre. Westerns don’t have a lot of interior dialogue either. Rushdie’s style is very male, and his stories, like Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth and Pouring Rain, are sweeping, masculine epics with strong, idealized women. Sometimes you’re in the mood for circumscribed domestic weepies, sometimes you’re not.
As for his exuberance of prose, either you can handle the wide channel of long sentences and maximalist prose or you can’t. You don’t send a cowbell player to review an orchestra. At the root of it isn’t always a legitimate style issue. It’s often a limitation of the reviewer, the simple inability to get through the text.
These kinds of reviewers would be hating on Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez if he hadn’t already been beatified and it weren’t career suicide. I dig MÃ¡rquez only in small doses — he spews tissue-thin plot like he’s paid by the word — but it’s not because of sentence length.