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Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (Modern Library Paperbacks) Paperback – September 30, 2003

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Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002 (Modern Library Paperbacks) + Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 + The Satanic Verses: A Novel
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Roughly one-fourth of these essays deals with the response of the media, various governments and Rushdie himself to what he calls the "unfunny Valentine" he received on February 14, 1989, from the Ayatollah Khomeini: the fatwa calling for his death. Everyone, it seems, had a script for Rushdie to follow, though none of these fantasies resembled the rather simple one the author fancied (and which seems to have been realized), which is that his problems gradually disappear and he be allowed to resume a more or less normal writerly life. To paraphrase an idea that appears in several of these essays, the problem is that frontiers cross us rather than the other way around: we are going about our business when our country is divided (as happened to Rushdie's native India in 1947) or we encounter a shocking work of art or our enemies declare they will kill us. Many respond to unnerving changes by embracing religion, but, says Rushdie, "ancient wisdoms are modern nonsenses"; in place of sectarian fervor, he recommends intellectual freedom, a simple concept yet a rigorous practice, as this book proves. These essays range over literature, politics and religion, as well as Rushdie's two private passions, rock music and soccer. They are united by a play of sparkling intelligence seasoned with sly wit, qualities that would serve the world at any time in its long, flawed history. After all, says Rushdie, the story he loved first and still loves best, perhaps the story of all humanity, is The Wizard of Oz, a fable that tells us the grown-up world doesn't really work, that adults can be good people and still be bad wizards.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Thanks to some Iranian ayatollahs, Rushdie is probably the most famous writer still alive. Although he remains under partial protection, he has continued to write since 1989, producing several novels and many articles. This first collection of short nonfiction includes material about his life under the fatwa ("Messages from the Plague Years") but ranges from discussions of The Wizard of Oz and rock music to his February 2002 lectures on human values at Yale. The title is well chosen; Rushdie tends to be confrontational, and the white-hot publicity has not mellowed him-a 1999 piece debates whether Charlton Heston or Austrian writer Peter Handke, a supporter of Slobodan Milosevic, should be dubbed "Moron of the Year." Although some of the pieces themselves are a bit dated, Rushdie has added updates in footnotes, and in any case he always makes his point. For large collections or journalism special collections.
Shelley Cox, Special Collections, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679783490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679783497
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,377,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sir Salman Rushdie is the author of many novels including Grimus, Midnight's Children, Shame, The Satanic Verses, The Moor's Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Fury, Shalimar the Clown and The Enchantress of Florence. He has also published works of non-fiction including, The Jaguar Smile, Imaginary Homelands, The Wizard of Oz and, as co-editor, The Vintage Book of Short Stories.

He has received many awards for his writing including the European Union's Aristeion Prize for Literature. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. In 1993 Midnight's Children was judged to be the 'Booker of Bookers', the best novel to have won the Booker Prize in its first 25 years. In June 2007 he received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By manju jaidka on November 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Rushdie's latest book lays bare a mind that is on the one hand poetic and reflective, and on the other incisive, witty and analytical. It collects essays, newspaper pieces and columns on diverse topics written and published over the last ten years. The subjects include the children's classic, The Wizard of Oz, essays on specific individuals (like Angela Carter, J.M. Coetzee, Arthur Miller), `Messages from the Plague Years' (select pieces written during the 10 years of the fatwa), syndicated columns for the New York Times (including the outstanding piece on `Amadou Diallo'), and the recent Tanner Lectures delivered at Yale. Altogether they make impressive reading, the musings of a brilliant author inviting the reader to take up challenges, step across all daunting lines of control, and explore new territories.
Rushdie can be ruthless and hardhitting, as in his piece `Not About Islam?' which calls a spade a spade. He can be maddeningly provocative, as in the Introduction to his Vintage Anthology of Indian Writing in English (collected here as `Damme, This Is the Oriental Scene for You!' with a half-sheepish footnote and a slight toning down of his earlier abrasive remarks on regional literatures). He can be passionate in his indignation against racial injustice, and expansive in his appreciation of rock music. But at all times his good humour, his sense of mischief, plays peek-a-boo with his most profound beliefs. He thumbs his nose unselfconsciously at stuff-shirts, no matter how high a pedestal they occupy. He refers en passant to Shashi Deshpande's `curdled judgments'; he dismisses with a shrug the divine aspirations of `dharma bums'; he does not like the way J.M.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By pnotley@hotmail.com on October 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the second collection of non-fiction by Salman Rushdie and like its predecessor "Imaginary Homelands," it covers a decade's worth of writing. Unlike the previous volume it contains fewer book reviews and literary criticism. Instead, it can be divided into four parts. More than half the book consists of various essays and articles. The second consists of articles Rushdie wrote against the fatwa imposed on him by the Iranian theocracy for writing "The Satanic Verses." The third consists of the monthly columns he has been writing for the past few years and the fourth consists of the title essay.
What is the result? Let's start off with the columns, which are generally the weakest part of the book. They are mostly unremarkable journalism and are often facile. Particular examples would include Rushdie's pieces on the new millenium, an outburst of creationism in Kansas, the rise of Jorg Haider and the apotheosis of Joseph Lieberman. But not all of them are so average. There are good pieces on the crisis in Kashmir, the military regime in Pakistan, the campaign against destructive and wasteful Indian dams, and the civil war in Fiji. There is a rather sharp and critical piece against J.M. Coetzee's "Disgrace." He has an amusing jibe against James Cameron's claim that his remake of "Solaris" will combine "2001" with "Last Tango in Paris": ...There is one particular turn of his phrase in his article on the police killing of Amadou Diallo. Rushdie states that it would be "unimaginably awful" to have Diallo's killers patrolling the street, and then he stops himself: it would all be too "imaginably awful" to have that, given the persistence of police brutality and the ineffective measures against it. There is also his denunciation of V.S.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Smith on October 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Rushdie manages pour his considerable intellectual firepower into every line that he writes; his work is so full of veiled references, wordplay, puns, and double entendres that almost any passage can be read and re-read and still produce some sort of new meaning each time. These gymnastics never fail to impress, but ironically they don't create the optimal framework upon which to construct a coherent novel. Literary flash abounds, but in my opinion Rushdie often moves important elements (like, say, character development?) to the back burner.
However, all of the features of Rushdie's style that I occasionally consider to be ill-suited to long fiction I find to work perfectly in this collected anthology of short nonfiction. A little focus is a wonderful thing, and in Step Across This Line Rushdie dissects thoughts and attitudes in the real world with laser-like lucidity and precision.
These essays and columns range in subject matter from Arthur Miller to the rock band U2 to his struggle with the infamous Iranian fatwa. Both the weighty (example: a reevaluation of Ghandi's legacy) and the trivial (example: the relevance of the aging Rolling Stones in the world of rock music) are examined with wit and depth - and even the trivial themes are used to shine a light on not-so-trivial aspects of our modern society.
Most importantly, I left each essay with a new opinion and point of view - with many of which I agreed and all of which I found in some way illuminating. In the long essay Step Across This Line he examines the way that borders and frontiers shape the evolution of cultures. In summary: an excellent collection of thoughtful and concise essays. Highly recommended.
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