Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review: Orpheus and Eurydice

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I’ve been trying to get into Salman Rushdie for quite some time now. Freshman year, I began reading Midnight’s Children, but as it was a required book for a painful class, I naturally never completed it. Then, a year ago, I picked up Shalimar the Clown, and though I loved the beginning, I quickly tired of of style and found myself simply turning the pages in order to discover what would happen to the characters that I had developed a modicum of affection for.

Still, almost all of the people whose book recommendations I trust continually sang the praises of The Ground Beneath Her Feet. They told me, if you read one Rushdie book, make it this one. From the first page, I immediately recognized Rushdie’s style – sentences teeming with pop culture, historical and literary references, first person narration neglecting to omit even the most intimate details, complete with allusions to future plot twists that compel us to continue reading.

It took me a little while to settle into this style, much like it might take a coddled western teen to settle into India’s densely humid spring monsoon season. Each paragraph can dissected on its own as a fully prose poem, which, while invoking a considerable amount of awe, isn’t a style that I typically enjoy. Still, the novel grew on me, and I found myself becoming rather attached to the unapologetic, reflective, oft hilarious narrative voice and the mythical characters and story it was retelling. Rushdie rewrites the classic Greek tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, casting them as rock gods in a contemporary global setting. We follow Vina Aspara and Ormus Cama through the eyes of Rai Merchant, Vina’s faithful, doting companion from childhood (naturally also in love with her), as the two rockstars captivate the world with their tale and their music.

Though still not a favorite book of mine, I still somehow feel like this is a must read, if only to sample Rushdie’s unique style and perspective. I’ve resolved to read it again, more patiently this time around.

2 comments:

Salvatore said…

I have to say I'm interested that this is a retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. Sounds like it could be fun. That being said, I dislike Rushdie and probably will refuse to give him another chance. I also put down 'Shalimar the Clown' due to the fact that I was getting bored with it about 100 pages in. And 'Midnight's Children' I could have also done without (although I did finish it). Thanks for the recommendation.

Kari said…

Nice little metaphor there, Nihal.