The following writing is not my own, except for the fact that I’m typing it into my computer. But it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read that describes who I am, what I’m about … and that I’m not alone in it, so I thought I’d share it here.
Even if you’ve never read anything by Salman Rushdie, you probably know his name. He’s the poor bloke whom then-Iranian supreme voobaha Ruhollah Khomeini put out a contract on in 1988 because Khomeini and his band of scowling thugs thought that his book The Satanic Verses was a slam on Islam. (He managed to outlive both the fatwa and Khomeini himself, which once again proves that living well is the best revenge. Or something..) When he’s not busy being the target of Muslim-extremist death threats, he’s one of the world’s great novelists, winning the Booker Prize (the UK equivalent of a National Book Award) in 1981 for Midnight’s Children. I absolutely love his skill with the English language, and his ability to conjure up stories and worlds that are utterly fantastic while still ringing with the truth, the realism of human life.
So I hope he’ll forgive me for quoting over a page of his work. The piece below (only slightly edited) is from his novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet, a sprawling epic that starts with the legend of Orpheus; mixes it with alternative universes, tectonic shifts, two truly odd love triangles, and the history of rock & roll; then races it through postwar Bombay/Mumbai, 1960s England, 1970s New York City and what Joni Mitchell once called “the star-maker machinery behind the popular song.” It’s never been made into a movie and never will be, because you can’t cram the thing into two-and-a-half hours or less, and even if you could the plot would still be so convoluted it would make Inception look like a nursery rhyme. It’s an E-ticket thrill ride, and in the hands of a lesser writer it would fall to pieces. That it doesn’t is testimony to Rushdie’s gift.
And my favorite part of it is a soliloquy by the book’s protagonist, an Indian-born American photographer nicknamed “Rai” (coincidence?) on the subject of being an outsider in society. As you might guess from the name of my blog, that’s a subject near and dear to my heart. Every so often, I revisit this passage just to remind myself that no, I’m not crazy, this is how God has made me — and because He’s done so, I must therefore be valuable and useful (even when other voices are dissenting). Anyway, enough preamble; enjoy, and let me know what you think: