Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Salman Rushdie: The Ground Beneath Her Feet

from the article,

And that's why this book is so great, why it surpasses most of his published work to date. Readers can always tell when the author cares, and when the author is, for lack of a better phrase, in love with his characters and his subject matter. Rushdie has never been this much in love with the written word, and the result is a novel that comes very, very close to explaining rock 'n' roll. Before I read this novel, 10 years ago, I would have said that was an impossible task. I won’t say that now.

In a 1999 essay entitled "Rock Music -- A Sleeve Note," Rushdie sniffed, "I don't subscribe to the lyrics-are-poetry school of rock aficionado overclaiming." I do, and some days I might go so far as to say that the rockers now have the upper hand. After I reread "The Ground Beneath Her Feet," I'd guess that Rushdie wasn't being entirely honest with himself. His love for rock 'n' roll is gloriously unconcealed in this novel; it's the kind of love and ardor that poets, not mere entertainers, can inspire. He's a rock fan, and this novel proves he's the kind of fan who accepts that music can change the world, not just sell records and land its artists on magazine covers. In terms of art, and in terms of joy, it's hard to overclaim the effect that people like John Lennon, like Lou Reed, like David Bowie can have on society. That's what being a fan is about, and Rushdie knows it. That’s poetry -- just like this book.


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