Quickie Book Review: Salman Rushdie’s “Fury”

High Voltage

Just finished Salman Rushdie’s Fury.

This was my first taste of Rushdie, and it disappointed me. The protagonist is the usual brilliant academic undergoing a midlife crisis. (True, he is from India and not white, but this has little meaning in the story itself, even though it takes place mostly in New York.) Although he is described as plain and middle-aged, as well as saddled with a tendency toward involuntary rages, he is–of course–irresistible to women, and–of course–a superb lover…and the women are invariably the Most Beautiful Women on Earth. There is a twist involving child sexual abuse, and the protagonist does become wealthy in a contrived and accidental manner, and a revolution in a tiny South Pacific country becomes part of the story, as well as a series of brutal ritual murders, etc etc. All the plotting and concepts are of the male-adoloscent variety.

Add in excessive allusions to both literary and pop culture, leavened by endless name-dropping, and the author’s undeniable skill as a wordsmith is not enough to save the story, which became a slog, despite being rather short. Think Truman Capote channeled through Frank Zappa, with an echo of Joyce. Overdone, overwrought, and just plain over with, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ll try one of Rushdie’s earlier books one of these days, something he wrote before he became famous. But I am unfortunately an optimist, and will probably suffer for it

Rick Risemberg