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EAST, WEST: Stories Hardcover – January 15, 1995
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The Amazon Book Review
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From Publishers Weekly
"I... have ropes around my neck... pulling me East and West," says the narrator of one of the nine haunting stories in this collection by the author of The Satanic Verses. In three tales set in India ("East") Rushdie surveys his native culture with a mixture of fondness, bemusement and dismay. "The Prophet's Hair" has some of the bite and daring that got Rushdie into hot water with Muslim fanatics. Stories set in England make up the "West" section. In a droll leg-puller, a fusty, prolix narrator retells events in Yorick's life, making Shakespeare's jester husband to the fair Ophelia, who has terrible breath, "the rottenest-smelling exhalation in the State of Denmark." The "permeation of the real world by the fictional is the symptom of the moral decay of our post-millennial culture," says a character in "At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers," a futuristic piece displaying Rushdie's iconoclastic imagination and pardonably jaundiced view of life. But the full reach of his brilliant speculation and glancing wit are revealed in the stories in which East and West meet. The narrator of "In the Harmony of the Spheres," a native Indian and perennial outsider in England, describes the suicide of his best friend, a British writer in the grip of paranoid schizophrenia, who manages posthumously to deal the narrator a psychic death blow. "Chekov and Zulu," another teaser with layers of implication, is the best of the lot. Terse, hilarious, with a sinister edge and a stunning denouement, it follows two boyhood friends from India, forever known by their Star Trek nicknames, now diplomats (and secret spies)in England.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The storied Rushdie (The Satanic Verses, LJ 12/88) provides nine stories, in groups of three, under the categories of "East," "West," and "East, West." Although these geographical headers do predict setting, theme, ethnicity, ethos, etc., the arrangement is much less satisfying than the stories themselves. Ironic, wry, and observant, this collection moves seamlessly from the simple O. Henry-ish "Good Advice Is Rarer than Rubies" to the complicated "The Courter," with its Four Seasons' song lyrics, coming-of-age theme, and crazy old porter, "Mixed-up," who turns out to be a chess Grand Master. The centerpiece may be "Yorick," a brilliant sendup of/tribute to Sterne, using the titular character's reference points in both Hamlet and Tristram Shandy; this story alone is worth the price of admission. For most collections, both academic and public.
--Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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Brevi storie sull'est, sull'ovest e tutte le persone che si trovano in mezzo. Il modo giusto per mostrare che, anche se il contesto é differente, le persone sono sempre le stesse.
read previously, and because I was intrigued by the suggestive story premises. A story about Yorick? Christopher Columbus? I am a fairly recent novitiate into the world of Rushdie (the only other novel of his I've read is
"Midnight's Children"), and I must say I am continued to be amazed. Rushdie crafts believable worlds which, outwardly fantastic or not, suggest the possibility of elusive magic just out of reach but still quite tangible. He has an uncanny ear for dialogue; one is almost to be able to literally "hear" the words spoken by his characters, especially the Anglo-Indian spoken by characters from his homeland.
There are nine stories in this volume, and though it is a quick read (I was able to read through the entire work in a single two hour sitting), the stories are immensely immersive. The stories are divided into three sections representing not only the locales for the setting, but also the cultural outlook of the characters described. The "East" stories blend the mysticism and political awareness I was familiar with from the previous Rushdie book I'd read, while the "West" stories reflect the fantastic madness of our Western culture. It's in the "East, West" section that Rushdie is his strongest. These stories deal with the collision of Rushdie's two backgrounds and the conflicts that arise from the struggle to maintain an identity between the confliction spheres of influence.
This is perhaps a better introduction to Rushdie than "Midnight's Children". Not only did I have the cushion of reading a story I was already acquainted with, I did not have to struggle with the curious idioms of speech and political events that were unfamiliar to a child of the West. I still really liked "Children" and plan to digest more Rushdie, those seeking to begin their foray into Rushdie's polyglot world might do well to start with this crossroads of a book.
However, the delivery was on time as expected.