2009: 21. The Moor’s Last Sigh

“I have lost count of the days that have passed since I fled the horrors of Vasco Miranda’s mad fortress in the Andalusian mountain-village of Benengeli; ran from death under the cover of darkness and left a message nailed to the door.”

The Moor’s Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie

This is the second Rushdie that I have read, and I don’t know if its just because I’m in a different headspace or whatever, but I really enjoyed this much more than the last.*  It took me a while to warm to the book, but once I did I was really entranced by the story.

The reason it took me a while is because of how Rushdie writes.  He is an everything and the kitchen sink school of writing - he throws words and ideas at you over and over again until you are just overcome by them, and especially at the beginning, before you know what’s going on you need to read so carefully to figure it all out (and that’s not even taking into account the cultural differences where it might take a bit of work to figure out the whose and whats of it), so that when I started the book I found it to be a lot of work to read, but the more I read the more I enjoyed it.  And SO much happens in each chapter and each chapter has so much story and so many ideas that it can be a bit overwhelming.  But once I got into the groove I loved it - how vivid it all is and how much is going on.  It seemed to me like India seems (at least from my very limited experience - which is basically people who’ve been there and like, the Amazing Race and Slumdog Millionaire) big and overpowering and multicultural and crowded.  Which is to say, it left me feeling like Rushdie’s way of writing is the only way to tell a story of India and to make you feel is some small way what it’s like.  Which I am sure is not true - next I’ll read something by Mumbai’s Hemingway and eat my words, but you get the sense of what I’m saying. 

The plot of the book is so overstuffed that it’s hard to articulate, but basically our narrator is telling his family’s life story in all its overstuffed glory, and his own story too.  And its a story of decline and tragedy, but it is so rich that you don’t really notice how sad it is until it ends, and even though the things that happen are tragic, I am left thinking of it as a happy book - or rather a book that where the writing is so full of life that I can’t think of it as a tragedy, even though things end badly for all of our characters.  Gosh, the more I think about it the more I loved this book, and maybe I should re-read Midnight’s Children... 

*Which was Midnight’s Children, which is supposed to be, like the Booker of Bookers and the world’s greatest novel (although I would have voted for Possession or Regeneration, but that’s just me).  And I liked it ok, but found it a bit much.  But now that I have read and liked this so much I suspect I would really enjoy a re-read of Midnight’s Children - if I had the energy for another Rushdie right away.

Date/Place Completed: February 2009; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction; Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017