Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lunch with the Furies

I finished Salman Rushdie’s book Fury a couple weeks ago. I think living in America has ruined one of the greatest writers of our time. Fatwas, the occasional newspaper article aside, Rushdie has fallen into a creative abyss. Sure he can play with language, sure he can wax poetic, but as many have told me, that doesn’t necessarily make for a good novel. It was full of insight about modernity, including a knowing wink at certain postmodern philosophers like Baudrillard but ultimately it failed as a novel.

It lacked a strong story, seeming more like a character study of a retired academic cum a world-famous doll maker. It riffs on the anger simmering below the surface of everyday interactions, but it never moves beyond glibness. In this, it reminded me of Pico Iyer’s The Global Soul. The occasional philisophico-poetic reverie falls flat for a lack of a strong framework to hold it in both books.

There is mystery: is the narrator the mysterious concrete killer who has been serially murdering the women of economic illuminati families, or is it his self-loathing African-American friend Jack? But unfortunately Rushdie failed to make me care that much. This book is eminently readable, but its fragmentation comes off as more lazy than intentional. The narrator is not necessarily fully likeable, which is ok, but his transformation is accomplished through a corny love story, no matter how unusual the pairing.

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