Two more updates, one quick and one more substantial. I visited AZ with a detective dog to fill my Q author slot, and then finally got to indulge my Rushdie addiction and get around to probably his most heralded book. Goodreads reviews follow. I have a loooonnnng way to go if I am going to make my goals this year, but hope springs eternal! Considering that things pretty much stopped from March to July, I actually think I am doing pretty well.
Here is Arizona:
This was a fun little mystery novel. It’s narrated from the point of view of the dog owned by the PI who is investigating. Yes it anthropomorphizes the guy, but it’s fun anyhow. Spencer Quinn isn’t going to displace John Sandford as my favorite crime fiction writer, but I will probably read another Bernie and Chet novel at some point, just for the fun of it.
And the marvelous Pakistan (because I have an S book for India) selection, a Booker winner and 1001 list pick:
I was born in Bombay…once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15, 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: at night. No, it’s important to be more… On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world. There were gasps. And, outside the window, fireworks and crowds. A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blandly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter. I, Saleem Sinai, later variously called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy, Sniffer, Buddha, and even Piece-of-the-Moon, had become heavily embroiled in Fate–at the best of times a dangerous sort of involvement. And I couldn’t even wipe my own nose at the time.
Salman Rushdie is a master of magical realism. His writing is enchanting, befuddling, amusing, and manages to blend difficult topics such as philosophy and modern history with personal human dramas. Following a complex novel like Midnight’s Children is no easy feat (though The Satanic Verses makes this one look like Fox in Socks and Other Stories), but it is profoundly rewarding. I found myself wanting to take courses in the history of modern India/Pakistan as I read this book, and was pouring over maps of India, and snarfing down masala dosas and samosas, feeling almost compelled to immerse myself in the world from which Rushdie draws his characters and energy.
Midnight’s Children begins with the premise described above, that Saleem Sinai and the newborn nation of India are inextricably joined at birth. But the story is not just Saleem’s, it also belongs to several generations of his family, to all the other children born between midnight and 1 a.m. within the new boundaries of the Indian nation, and finally to a certain widow who plays a critical role in the lives of the Rushdie’s characters. Saleem is the quintessential unreliable narrator, admitting to inaccuracies and inconsistencies in his tale from the start, but still committed to its metaphorical truth. He tells his tale to an immensely practical woman, a bit of a comic foil, whose interruptions and interjections serve to keep Saleem from going completely off the rails of plot and realism.
If you are in love with India, or if you would like to be, reading Rushdie is a marvelous way to immerse yourself in its splendor and its grimy backstreets.
Around the World (goal: 52 total including at least 6 in each of 6 different regions) 24
Asia/Mideast: 6 (Israel, China, Afghanistan, Japan, Iran, Pakistan)
Africa: 2 (Madagascar, Libya)
Europe: 6 (England/UK, Ireland, Monaco, Poland, Spain, Italy)
Caribbean/Central America/North America: 5 (US, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica)
Oceania: 1 (Fiji)
South America: 1 (Brazil)
Extra: 3 (Scotland, Greece, Holland)
Around the US (goal: 50 states, DC, and PR): 17 (AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, KS, LA, MA, MI, MN, MS, NM, NJ, NY, PA, RI, WV)
1001 Books (goal 52): 18
A to Z challenge (must be completed in order–26 author last names A to Z then 26 titles A to Z–strategy is all!): 18
Authors: Auster, Beinart, Chandler, Donovan, Eugenides, Faulkner, Grau, Hosseini, Ishiguro, Joyce, King, Lewis, Murakami, Nasar, Ondaatje, Preston and Childs, Quinn, Rushdie