Monday, June 22, 2009

Step Across This Line by Salman Rushdie

Oh sir, you have done it yet again. Read mostly in the Fairmont Waterfront on the Vancouver harbor in the first month of the year, this fine collection of essays landed in a suitcase and didn’t get finished until a different man read it months later in Puerto Vallerta. I suppose that’s fitting, since Rushdie himself wrote this as a lot of different men over a span of years from 1992 to 2002. And reader, let me tell you, you’re in for a treat. In 400 pages of dense, playful, angry, erudite and brilliant essays covering a wide range of topics, from The Wizard of Oz, to English footie, to his thoughts on the fatwa, Rushdie reminds us that he’s not just an important writer – he’s an important thinker. We get Christianity, judiasm, islam (of course), Pinochet, oral sex, infanticide, partition, Mercator projections, Bono, Bridget Jones, Ghandi, Babur, globalization, Nabakov, 9/11, Sammy Beckett, Kosovo, Elian Gonzales, Bush & Cheney, Yates & Faiz, tabloids, and a treasure trove of other topics.

This is a fantastic collection of essays, and as the title indicates, keeps coming back to a central theme that must have been very much on Rushdie’s mind at this time: lines, borders, their crossing; in short, the transgressive.

I’ll stop now, from fear that further expressing my admiration for Rushdie may begin to border on the sycophantine.

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