Newest Review: ... in the year 2000. Then everyone listens to the audio book, crossing off anyone on their list who gets a mention. The first person to... more
Fury - Salman Rushdie
Member Name: pje
Fury - Salman Rushdie
Date: 28/04/02, updated on 02/05/02 (904 review reads)
Advantages: Superb cover, imaginative brain-stretching style.
Disadvantages: Ridiculous number of celebrity namechecks.
But my enjoyment of his flowing style and bizarre juxtaposition of words was mixed with exasperation at his incessant name-dropping.
At times this book seemed like a literary version of Madonna's Vogue.
If the Guinness Book of Records had a record for the most real-life people named in one novel then this would surely be the new record-holder.
For example, one paragraph begins: "Patrick Kluivert scored for the Dutch" and ends: "Ask anyone. Ask Idi Amin."
And Rushdie also seems to have one eye on the American market:
' "Jack Rhinehart" was a usefully non-black specific name, carrying none of the ghetto connotations of a Tupac, Vondie, Anfernee, or Rah'schied (these were days of innovative naming and creative orthography in the African-American community). In the Palaces, people were not named in this way. Men were not called Biggie or Hammer or Shaquille or Snoop or Dre, nor were women named Pepa or LeftEye or D:Neece. '
TOP GAMBLING OPPORTUNITY:
Here's a game for any number of players. Each player makes a list of, say, ten celebrities who were 'current' in the year 2000. Then everyone listens to the audio book, crossing off anyone on their list who gets a mention.
The first person to cross off everyone on their card shouts: BANZAI!
Why does Rushdie feel the need to splatter the zeitgeist over every page? What will people make of his references to Brad, Meg, Julia, Tom, Puffy, 'N'SYNC,
Naomi, Robbie and Buffy in fifty years time? And who the hell are Sarraute, Gurumayi or Ivana Opalberg-Speedvogel when they're at home? Even so, I did enjoy it. Some readers have complained that the secondary characters aren't really explored, but people who analyze stuff are never satisfied, and always think they know best. Which reminds me...
I suppose you want to know about the plot, don't you? Oh, I don't know, one day it's "too many facts" or "too much plot, and not enough opinion", next day it's: "nice opinion, but I'd like to know more about the plot".
Well, tough. You'll get what you're given, and like it or lump it.
Let's face it, this is a literary novel, so what plot there is, is spread thinly. It's set in New York during "the first hot season of the third millennium", where we find Professor Malik Solanka, who has suddenly upped sticks and left his wife, young son and London home, in the middle of the night.
He had already quit the halls of academe (Oxford University to be precise) to make what becomes a cult TV series about the history of philosophy, using 'egghead dolls' to represent 'Great Minds' of history, and starring 'Little Brain' - a female time-travelling doll who interrogates them about their beliefs. But, to his chagrin, when the show is adopted by mainstream television, it is (inevitably) dumbed down. His beloved creation Little Brain becomes to philosophy, what Lara Croft is to archæology.
'Day by day she had become a creature of the entertainment multiverse.'
Later in the book, his foray into the world of science fiction becomes equally successful. So much so, that on the other side of the world, revolutionaries wear masks depicting his characters as they take control of a little island nation called Lilliput-Blefuscu.
There is love interest, of course. You can'
t have a mid-life adventure story without dollybirds. And dolls they are too: A Little Brain fan called Mila Milo, who connects him with the techy compuer geeks who turn his sci-fi tale into an online phenomenon; and Neela, whose beauty literally turns heads (and men to clutzes) and on whom his sci-fi heroine is based.
There is also a murder mystery element, which inevitably (this is a literary novel, remember) ends anticlimactically. Someone is going around bashing rich girls over the head with a lump of concrete, and Professor Solanka is alarmed at reports of a man in a Panama hat being seen in the vicinty of the crimes - because he wears just such a hat. And because the night he left his wife he'd found himself standing over her with a knife in his hand...
Why is he so full of fury inside, and who or what is he running away from?
' Life is fury, he'd thought. Fury - sexual, Oedipal, political, magical, brutal - drives us to our finest heights and coarsest depths. Out of *furia* comes creation, inspiration, originality, passion, but also violence, pain pure unafraid destruction, the giving and receiving of blows from which we never recover. '
I have to say that I found Professor Solanka about as expressive and animated a character as Sven Goran Eriksson. (Drat, I'm doing it now! Come to think of it they really do seem a lot alike. It just goes to show... it really is the quiet ones you have to watch!) But I didn't mind because there were no dull bits, I was continually amused by his creative wordplay, it may not be typical Rushdie. but it is one of his most accessible books.
I had Fury for a long time before I read it, but not shelved away though -
I stood it in the corner of my room so that I could gaze at that stunning photograph on the cover of the Empire State Building in a thunderstorm. Ironically, of course, the Manhattan Skyline was irrevocably devastated by an outburst of fury just aft
er this book was published.
¶ Hardback: £16.99 ¶ ISBN: 0224061593 ¶ pp 261 ¶
¶ Paperback: £6.99 ¶ ISBN: 0099421860 ¶ pp 272 ¶ 4th July 2002 ¶
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