- Fizzy Thoughts: Stories

Stories

Thursday, August 28, 2008


If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me?


Oh, I’m so glad you asked, because I was thinking about this last night. Well, not exactly about this particular question, but close. You see, I’m reading Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence. This is my first time reading Rushdie, and so far, I’m not a fan. Because, hello? I’m on page 58 and where is the freakin’ story???

Let me give you an example of why I am struggling…

The emperor Abul-Fath Jalaluddin Muhammad, king of kings, known since his childhood as Akbar, meaning “the great,” and latterly, in spite of the tautology of it, as Akbar the Great, the great great one, great in his greatness, doubly great (yes, yes, I get it, he’s great…let’s move on), so great that the repetition in his title was not only appropriate but necessary in order to express the gloriousness of his glory – the Grand Mughal, the dusty battle-weary, victorious, pensive, incipiently overweight, disenchanted, mustachioed, poetic, oversexed, and absolute emperor, who seemed altogether more magnificent, too world-encompassing, and, in sum, too much to be a single human personage – this all-engulfing flood of a ruler, this swallower of worlds, this many-headed monster who referred to himself in the first person plural – had begun to meditate, during his long, tedious journey home, on which he was accompanied by the heads of his defeated enemies bobbing in their sealed earthen pickle-jars, about the disturbing possibilities of the first person singular – the “I.”
And yes, that was one sentence. To imitate Rushdie, one long, endless, meandering, repetitious, will this ever end, we’re moving into agonizing, you cheated and opened up your thesaurus to find some synonyms, didn’t you, you don’t have to beat me over the head with his greatness, let’s just get to the point, oh my god shoot me now, sentence.

So yes, I’m all about the story. And the characters. And evidently, short sentences.

And now, here’s a question for you…how do you feel about Rushdie?

14 comment(s):

Trisha said...

Oh my! That's bad. Really bad. Do you plan on sticking with it to the end? I'm all about stories too. I have to care about the characters and what is happening to them in order to enjoy a novel.

Messy Karen said...

i've never read Rushdie. but i loved The Birth of Venus and The Floating Book because there was so much description. did you read a book called Nectar. you'll have to tell me if there was a story because i was never looking for one.

trish said...

Well, based on that one sentence, I'll probably never read Rushie. UGH! I don't know how you're slogging through it. Kudos to you!

chartroose said...

Gawd! Throw that trash away!

beastmomma said...

I think that Rushdie is an acquired taste. It took me three trys before I finished Midnight's Children. After I was done with the book, I found that I was glad. He definately is a dense writer, but if you stick with it you can get all kinds of historical and cultural context, in addition to the story.

beastmomma said...

Here is my review of Midnight's Children, if you are interested:
http://beastmomma.squarespace.com/from-shelf-to-hand/2005/10/7/midnights-children-complete.html

softdrink said...

I don't know...I've heard good things about it, so I'm going to stick with it awhile longer and see what happens.

anne said...

Oh. Dear. Me.
I really thought I wanted to read Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence...now I'm thinking, well "what was I thinking?"! I won't rush out and buy it now, that's for sure. I'll wait and check it out of the library someday. Thanks for the heads up, Jill!

Dar said...

Well I've never read anything by Rushdie and after reading that -not sure that I will.

I've got to have a good story and characters I like or it just won't keep my interest.

donstuff said...

I was sidetracked by beastmomma's description of Rusdie as "a dense writer."
Now, I'm wondering...

beastmomma said...

donstuff: I think that some writer's require the reader to do more unpacking than others. I think that a book can be a slow read and have sentences that are hard to get through, but still be a good read. Also, some books have really hard parts to get through and other parts that go by faster.

Josette said...

Haha! That's so funny. So how are you getting on with the book? Hope it got better!

bethany said...

oh, that quote makes me sick. yuk.

yes, go story! leave the snobbery to the old fuddies :)

Carrie K said...

I think that sentence convinced me not to...

i read for the story...if i get to the end and their is no point to the story...i HATE the book.

i felt that way about memory keepers daughter and digging to america...to name a few.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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